As we honor the service and sacrifice this week of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we have the story of a great paratrooper from Shreveport -- Fair Park High grad Lloyd Polette. He survived D-Day. And his heroism did not stop there.
Lt. Polette was among the select group of volunteers called The Pathfinders. At dusk on D-Day Minus One, Polette and the Pathfinders were the first ones in, parachuting behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied France with special equipment to help guide the rest of the airborne troops to landing zones.
"I thought my daddy was invincible. Nothing would happen to him," said one of his daughters, Barbara Box.
About six month's after D-Day, Barbara Box was in her first grade classroom at Queensborough Elementary when some men came to the door to talk to her teacher.
"She started crying," Box says of her teacher, who also taught her father. "Then she told me I needed to go home with them. And I can just remember Mother having a fit."
Lt. Lloyd Polette was killed in action in the Battle of the Bulge.
Two years after his burial in Belgium, Lt. Polette's body was exhumed and sent home. He was reburied next to other relatives at St. Joseph's Cemetery.
At that time, his younger daughter, Becki, was then 5 years old. The funeral is her only memory of her father.
"Isn't that strange? But it was a traumatic experience for me," Becki Davis says. "My heart just jumped when I heard the 21 guns salute."
Lt. Polette's two daughters not only grew up without their father. They did not know how much of a miltary hero he was. His widow, and high school sweetheart, could not bear the tragedy.
"She would not talk about it at all," Box says.
Only after their mother's death did the daughters learn more about their father's heroism. There were the medals -- the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Hearts, and others -- earned while Lt. Polette led risky assaults, wiping out key enemy gun positions, and guiding his troops through battles.
Some of those troops wrote letters to the family, praising his courage and leadership.
"I'm amazed," Box says of her father's service.
"I'm very proud," adds Davis with a smile. "Kind of gives me an extra push when I feel down."
And only recently, the daughters learned that back at Ft. Bragg, the 82nd Airborne Division has an annual paratrooper competition to find the best lieutentant -- winner of the coveted Lt. Lloyd P. Polette Cup.
"You wonder if he's was remarkable because he was your dad. Then you realize he really was remarkable."
The daughters now have a total of ten great grandkids. The oldest boy has made a big announcement to the family.
"He said he wants to go into the service. And we said 'Ohhhhh,'" Davis says, her sister echoing her emotion.
While there's understandable trepidation, maybe following great great grandfather's footsteps could be expected.
"I think we were made from good stuff," Davis says.
Lt. Lloyd Polette was not the only member of the family to give the ultimate sacrifice to his country in World War II. So did his younger brother 2Lt. Charles Polette, another paratrooper. He died in the Battle of Okinawa, May of 1945. He was also later buried in Shreveport, just nine days after his brother.