15 episodes

Frenchie features stories of French-speaking Cajun World War II veterans, as told by the veterans themselves.

Frenchie Podcast Energy Pioneers Podcast

    • History
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

Frenchie features stories of French-speaking Cajun World War II veterans, as told by the veterans themselves.

    Episode 15: D-Day Revisited—Finding Duhon’s Grave

    Episode 15: D-Day Revisited—Finding Duhon’s Grave

    This June 6th marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day when the free world again turns its attention to the beaches of Normandy, to honor the sacrifices of so many and to pay tribute to the last of those who liberated Europe in WWII. In this episode, we reflect back on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day when I had the honor to visit the grave of Houston Duhon, a Cajun killed at Omaha Beach on the first wave. His best friend in the service, Carroll Mestayer, jumped off the Higgins boat with him and carried his lifeless body to the shore. Carroll survived the battle and lived to tell the story of that event on Bloody Omaha Beach and about his journey across his ancestral homeland as a French-speaking Cajun.

    • 42 min
    Episode 14: Cajun Commandoes of Operational Group PEG

    Episode 14: Cajun Commandoes of Operational Group PEG

    On August 11, 1944, a 15-man OSS Special Forces team parachuted into the mountainous region of Southern France to rendezvous with the French Underground and sabotage enemy troop movements. Roy Armentor and Claude Galley—two Cajuns from south Louisiana—were part of this Operational Group codenamed PEG. For two weeks, they conducted hit-n-run missions behind enemy lines alongside their French counterparts. Both were severely wounded and were taken in by local French people. The Cajun French language, which they had been told to forget growing up in school, proved invaluable to their experiences in WWII.

    • 30 min
    Episode 13: Frenchie of VII Corps HQ, Ned Arceneaux

    Episode 13: Frenchie of VII Corps HQ, Ned Arceneaux

    Of the 450 men in US Army VII Corps HQ, only one spoke French—Ned Arceneaux, from Lafayette. As the Quartermaster for his unit, Ned was in charge of precuring all the supplies. When they landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Ned’s French-speaking abilities proved invaluable to his commanding officers and to his comrades. He served as an interpreter for Gen. J. Lawton Collins, known as “Lighting Joe,” one of the senior leaders in the European Theater during WWII.

    • 28 min
    Episode 12: Orleans Pitre, Cajun of OSS

    Episode 12: Orleans Pitre, Cajun of OSS

    In the mid-night hours of September 10, 1944, Captain Orleans Pitre, a Cajun from Cut-Off, Louisiana, jumped out of an airplane over France with a team of special agents from the Office of Strategic Services. Their mission: to rendezvous with the French Maquis, supply them with weapons, and coordinate attacks against the retreating Germans. Pitre was one of a handful of Cajuns recruited by the OSS because of their French. Their secret missions behind enemy lines are the stuff of legend. Listen to his amazing story, as documented by his nephew in a 1991 interview.   

    • 20 min
    Episode 11: French Acadians in WWII

    Episode 11: French Acadians in WWII

    The stories of the Acadians and Cajuns are intertwined and remarkably similar. In October 2022, I had the honor of traveling to the Acadian heartland in the Canadian Maritime Provinces to interview the last of the French-speaking Acadian veterans of WWII. In this special episode, you will hear stories from the veterans themselves, from family members, and from local experts. Most fought in Italy, France, Belgium, and Holland. Many did not speak good English when they joined, but they learned quickly. The Acadians were dispersed throughout nearly every branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, so learning English in the military was an imperative. Once overseas, however, their French language became valuable in communicating with locals, particularly when they came ashore in Normandy. My journey to Canada to find the last Acadian vets stemmed from the “Cajun-Acadian WWII Commemoration” event at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans in April 2022. You can watch the entire program here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynrhj8iCU48&t=274s

    • 41 min
    Episode 10: Cajun Ace—the Jeff DeBlanc Story

    Episode 10: Cajun Ace—the Jeff DeBlanc Story

    The Cajun Ace, Jeff Deblanc, shot down 5 enemy aircraft in one engagement in the South Pacific. For this, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. It’s an amazing story of aviation agility, skill, and grit—but it’s not the whole story. Enroute over the Solomon Islands, DeBlanc’s external fuel tank on his F-4F airplane malfunctioned. He realized at that moment that he would not have enough fuel to complete the mission and make it back to Guadalcanal. But he pressed on anyway knowing that, after the battle, he would have to ditch his plane in the ocean, swim to a remoted island, and survive there until rescued. He was confident in his ability to survive because he was reared in the Atchafalaya Basin swamp and he could speak fluent French and a bit of Spanish to communicate to the natives if he had to. Somehow, some way, he would make it out alive. This is a story about one of Louisiana greatest war heroes and one of the most amazing World War II stories you’ll ever come across.

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

loyno law ,

Remarkable to hear and learn from these interviews!

Highly recommend this series. In order to more forward in a responsible way, our Nation needs to understand and learn from the past. Let’s celebrate and honor diversity through this series.

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