ST. MARTINVILLE — From the parking lot, it looked just like any other school day at St. Martinville Primary as children arrived to start their week.
Once inside the cafeteria, though, it was obvious the day was special. Teachers manned a booth dripping in red, white and blue bunting. Fathers, some in their military uniform, signed in their children, then accompanied them through the breakfast line.
The Vets and Dads celebration was the school’s way of marking the Veterans Day holiday. The desire to honor the community’s veterans and teach the students the importance of our servicemen and women was especially strong for Special Services Teacher Paula Marie. At least four generations of her family were represented on the school’s Table of Honor, where photos of family members serving in the military were displayed.
“My father was an aviation instructor for the first class of aviation cadets to graduate from West Point,” she said, pointing out a New York Times page with a photo of her father, Lt. L.E. Biehl, with his students. “He never talked about it much. My aunt sent me the page, and I asked him why he never mentioned it. He said that his contribution was minor compared to those of others.”
Biehl did more than teach. Marie said he volunteered to fly combat missions, eventually seeing action in the European and Arabian theaters.
For Sgt. Mike Ebron and his daughter, Angel, the military is much more present. Ebron currently serves as a team leader with Alpha Company, 2/156 Infantry in Breaux Bridge. As an infantryman with the Louisiana National Guard, he has already been deployed once to the Middle East, in 2010.
“We were stationed at Camp Victory,” Ebron said. Camp Victory encompassed the area around the Baghdad Airport in Iraq.
As for his daughter, Angel had few words, but a proud, shy smile when asked what she thought of her father’s military service.
“It’s cool,” she said.
In addition to breakfast, the teachers played a mixture of patriotic music, handed out flags and had photos taken of veterans with their children.