Hancock County veterans recognize service and sacrifice

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX)-Americans gathered at VFW Halls and American Legion Posts across South Mississippi on Tuesday to recognize Veteran's Day.

They came together to honor and remember the military men and women who have served their country.

One such observance was held at American Legion Post 139 in Hancock County.

"Remember how men and women set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nation's cause. Defending the freedom of mankind and preserving our precious American heritage," said post commander, George Piazza.

The crowd said "thanks" to those members of the "greatest generation" who defended freedom on foreign soil, while dedicated families did their part back home.

"And I went door to door to the kitchens of my neighbors with my coffee can and collected used grease for bullets during World War Two," recalled Marlene Johnson, who serves as Ladies Auxiliary president.

Col. Randolph Bourgeois' military service covered 30 years and three wars.

"Let us not forget that wars have liberated slaves, that wars have stopped genocide in the world, and today they have toppled and are toppling terrorists and their organizations," said Bourgeois.

Ninety years ago, another Bay St. Louis veteran was recognized for his service and sacrifice.

"He's the most decorated soldier from Mississippi in World War One," said Bourgeois, as he pointed to an old photograph of a soldier receiving a medal.

Henry Jetton Tudury was that soldier. He made it home from war, but died at age 67. His two daughters joined the crowd in recognizing his extraordinary service.

Elsie Benigno recalled her father's courage and service.

"He was gassed and shell shot three times. We have at the museum, they have his helmet with the dent in it where he was hit. He carried messages across the firing lines," she said.

Americans are grateful he did.

"And may God continue to bless this magnificent and marvelous country. The United States of America," said Bourgeois, as the observance concluded.

That World War One soldier from Bay St. Louis kept a diary during his service overseas. Charles Sullivan, a history professor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, wrote a book about the military service of Henry Jetton Tudury.