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Odon Bacqué (“Don”), the author of “A Walk in the Park: A Vietnam Comedy,” is the featured guest on this audio podcast episode of Discover Lafayette with Jan Swift. A member of the Army’s Special Forces (“Green Berets”), this memoir is comedic and also poignant in its recount of how life doesn’t always go as we plan.
Many of you know Don Bacqué as a loyal public servant, well-known in Lafayette for his community activism and warm and friendly disposition. Don served as a State Representative representing Lafayette’s District 43 from 1988 to 1992.
In 1986, Bacqué was the founding chair of Leadership Lafayette, a program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to train community leaders. Hundreds of people have used the insights from Leadership Lafayette to become aware of what it takes to run a community, and have gone on to become elected leaders and supporters of initiatives to improve the quality of life in Lafayette, Louisiana. In 1982, as the chair of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Bacqué supported the consolidation of the Lafayette city and parish governments as a way to become more efficient and save taxpayer dollars. (As an aside, he supports the December 8, 2018 initiative to “Fix the Charter” that Lafayette Parish voters will have the opportunity to decide.)
Bacqué organized a Vietnam Veterans group in Lafayette and served as the state co-chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee that built a monument in New Orleans to honor the 881 veterans from Louisiana who did not return from the war. He is currently serving as a financial service provider with Mass Mutual Life Insurance.
In 2015, Don released A Walk in the Park: A Vietnam Comedy, a comedic book about his experiences in the Vietnam War, in which he served in the Army’s 5th Special Forces, popularly known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear. He stated that at least two God-inspired occurrences facilitated completion of this book: First, he found that his memories of the war were fading but when he was packing to move to his new house he came across wartime letters he had written to his wife, Cookie, that served as the basis of his manuscript; and, second: Don was encouraged by his close friend, Carl Bauer, to join Carl’s writing class where he had to submit a chapter of his life story for each class, which eventually kept him on track to finish the project. Carl Bauer didn’t live to read the outcome of Don’s story about his feelings on the war, but Carl’s life lives on through his magnetic energy which ignited Don and so many others of us to follow our path and make a difference in life.
The resulting work is one you will enjoy as you also learn about the foibles of military service and the true grit required of our men and women who serve and protect the United States of America and our allies! The adventure that began for Don Bacque on February 11, 1968 changed his life and led him to be the well-grounded man he is today. Inspirationally, Don is well aware that God’s grace is real and that heroes, while not necessarily recognized, walk among us every day.
Don details the adventure that led him to Vietnam and it is one to which we can all relate as it was “never supposed to happen.” He had mistakenly believed that his poor eyesight would spare him from combat: Why would the Army send a man who was legally blind into combat if he might lose his glasses and mistakenly shoot the wrong side?? How could a man who was afraid of heights be made to jump from planes and into war zone conflicts??
As Don recounts the many close friends he made, the lessons learned, and the gradual disillusionment he experienced as the futility of the Vietnam War became apparent, “A Walk in the Park” is an important read for all generations. To purchase the book, please visit Amazon here.
It is an honor to host this podcast and have the opportunities to shine the light on our rich culture that produces men such as Don Bacque! Thank you.