Free-lancing

Astronaut James Irwin (seated) with Rev. Perry Sanders

General Honore and the GreenARMY

Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (U.S. Army, Retired) is a leader of armies.

Having served in the military for 37 years, he was a commander of missions on five continents, including being one of the commanding officers in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Commanding General of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. In 2005, he headed up the army of 20,000 in the search-and-rescue mission in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, he’s leading a new army of civilians who are intent on protecting Louisiana’s environment. It’s called The GreenARMY, and it’s a coalition of numerous groups that are dedicated to assuring the quality of our state’s air, water and earth – now and for future generations.

Among the many groups in this army are Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Levees.org, Save Lake Peigneur Inc., and Louisiana Bucket Brigade, to name but a few.
Individually, these groups have had limited voice and political clout. But collectively, as members of The GreenARMY of Louisiana, they are becoming a force with which to be reckoned.
And with a high-profile spokesman like General Honoré, the future of Louisiana’s environmental quality seems brighter than before.

Now, Honoré and his lieutenants are not against the oil and gas and petrochemical industries operating in our state. Far from it. They just want to assure that these enterprises operate responsibly – and with due consideration for the environment.

Some of the issues with which The GreenARMY are concerned include:
•  The Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish
•  The hundreds upon hundreds of abandoned, uncapped oil wells that contaminate the land and water around them.
•  Inadequacy of levees designed to protect our communities and to guard against petrochemical industry disasters.
•  Potential contamination of the Chicot Aquifer, which supplies freshwater to a 17-parish area of southwest Louisiana.

One of the proposed projects that may pose a threat to the aquifer is AGL Resources’ plan to build two additional salt dome caverns to store natural gas below Lake Peigneur, at Jefferson Island in Iberia Parish. The caverns would be the size of the Twin Towers of New York, according to Nara Crowley, president of Save Lake Peigneur Inc.
Crowley, like others in The GreenARMY, says a big part of the problem is “inadequate chemical storage regulations.”

An AGL Resources spokesman counters by saying the company has a good safety record and that their Jefferson Island plans can be carried out without compromising the safety of the aquifer.

The salt dome expansion project is but one of many fronts on which the Louisiana environmental-protection war is being fought. But now the various cells of the resistance are coming together as a formidable fighting force – The GreenARMY.

And they are being led by a general who has never been on the losing side of a war.

Anyone interested in enlisting, or learning more about The GreenARMY, can contact Nara Crowley at sossullivan2012@gmail.com.



"The greatness of God, the smallness of man"

 I was in college when President Kennedy’s dream of putting a man on the moon became a reality.

Like so many others, I was amazed and awestruck at this feat of American will and ingenuity.

Flash forward 40 years, to October 2013.

So I’m rummaging through some boxes of old newspaper clippings and other memorabilia, and I come across a picture of an astronaut that I took in March of 1973. It’s an image of Col. James Irwin and Rev. Perry Sanders, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lafayette, holding a photo of a man walking on the moon.  (Just goes to show: What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.)

The story behind the picture is that Irwin was in town as part of his worldwide crusade to win converts to Christianity.

“The further man gets from Earth, the more profound the effect on his spiritual nature. You come back with an obligation, a duty, to share it,” he said at a news conference.
An Apollo 15 astronaut, Irwin is one of the men who actually walked on the moon. He said his most exciting experience in life was feeling “the overwhelming presence of God” as he traveled in outer space.

“It makes you truly appreciate the greatness of God and the smallness of man,” he said of his space ventures.



Bro. Anthony Coco was the youngest mechanic

Remember the intriguing cartoon features that appeared in newspapers a few decades ago?
“Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” was one, and another was called “Strange As It Seems.”

They were little boxed items containing nuggets of interesting information usually illustrated by drawings. Like other readers, I would quickly page to these little gems and would say – as the creators of the features intended – “Wow! I didn’t know that,” or “Isn’t that something!”

I learned recently that an Acadiana resident – Brother Anthony Coco, S.J. – was featured in “Strange As It Seems,” the item appearing in November of 1942. His claim to fame was his extraordinary skills as a mechanic at a very young age.

The feature included the following text:

“Anthony Coco, 12, is a full-salaried employee of the Clyde Smith Auto Co., and performs all types of auto repair work. He occasionally uses tools heavier than himself!

“First showing signs of mechanical aptitude at age 9, (he) repaired door latches and locks for his mother. At 10, he began working around Clyde Smith’s garage, doing minor jobs.

“Now, at the ripe old age of 12, his word and advice on auto repairs are heeded. Many customers demand that 75-pound Tony work on their cars, and he has become a tourist attraction!”

Bro. Coco, blood brother of the late jazz clarinetist Fr. Frank Coco, S.J., is now a resident of Grand Coteau and lives at St. Charles College in a community of retiring Jesuits. He and his brother grew up in Helena, Ark.

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