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Annual 101st Airborne Observance Set Nov. 12

Released: 11/01/2010

Tom Czekanski, collections manager at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, will be featured speaker at the annual observance of the founding of the iconic 101st Airborne Division at Camp Claiborne in Rapides Parish. The free presentation, which is sponsored by the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at LSU Alexandria, will be Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Alexandria Museum of Art.

“The Alexandria Airborne Celebration: A Rendezvous with Destiny” will chronicle the creation on Aug. 16, 1942, of one of the most famous combat units in U.S. history. The 101st Airborne Division, which suffered some of the highest casualty rates in the war, was instrumental in liberating Europe from German occupation.

The event also will feature Col. Francis Burns, whose numerous decorations include a Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. Burns, a former executive officer for the Directorate of Combat Development at Fort Benning, Ga., and deputy commanding officer of the 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Hood, Texas, is stationed at Fort Polk.

“Central Louisiana’s military heritage, especially during World War II, is fascinating and extremely significant,” said Dr. Chris Stacey, assistant professor of history and presentation coordinator. “This is an event for anyone with interest in military history, and we warmly welcome veterans to attend.” A few members of the 101st Airborne Division still reside in Central Louisiana, including Dr. H. Rouse Caffey, former LSUA chancellor.

Literature on military history attractions in the area will be available, and after the event the Diamond Grill in downtown Alexandria will offer a special three-course dinner for $25 for those who attend the lecture.