Veterans memorial underway in Louisiana to honor soldier who died in Afghanistan

By MEGAN WYATT | The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. (TNS) | Published: May 15, 2019

(TNS) - A new veterans memorial in Broussard, Louisiana, will pay tribute to a local solider who lost his life while serving for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

The Sgt. Patrick Williamson Memorial will be constructed at the center of an existing roundabout at the intersection of South Bernard Road and West Fairfield Drive in Broussard. The memorial will feature three plaques with his name, a granite American flag with a hand-sculpted rope, and five bronze emblems for each branch of the military -- the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

"We're very honored to be able to memorialize a fallen soldier from Broussard whose parents still live here," said Mayor Ray Bourque. "We're interested in beautifying Broussard, and this kind of project takes that to another level. It's not just beautiful, but it's deeply meaningful to our community."

The council approved funding for the $140,000 project in April and unveiled the memorial's design during Tuesday's council meeting. The project is expected to be completed in about a year.

"We are so deeply grateful to the city council for doing this," said Patrick's mom, Sybil Williamson. "Patrick was a very proud soldier, and I think he'd be very proud to have this happening in his name."

Sgt. Patrick Williamson died in October 2009 at the age of 24 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in the Arghandab Valley of Afghanistan.

His parents still remember answering their door almost a decade ago to find two soldiers who delivered the news no parent wants to hear.

"It started with 'We regret to inform you,'" said Patrick's dad, Leon "Buddy" Williamson. "And then it was just an unreal experience. It was an out-of-body thing, like something you'd see in a movie or something. It was the worst day of my life."

Patrick Williamson attended St. Cecilia School and St. Thomas More High School before studying mechanical engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His parents said he dreamed of joining the military from the age of 10.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 2006 and deployed to Afghanistan in July 2009.

"Patrick was really very proud to serve," Buddy Williamson said. "It was his life's calling."

The Broussard City Council has also discussed constructing a veterans park on city-owned property near the roundabout where the memorial will be constructed.

But for now, the Sgt. Patrick Williamson Memorial is the only project that's been approved.

"When you go through it, just give him a wink and a nod," Buddy Williamson said. "And just kind of give a word of thanks to the guys in uniform now."

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