PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team presented retired Brig. Gen. Robert J. Leblanc with a set of brigade colors, a governor’s commendation and a Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Certificate for his time as an emergency manager at the 256th Armory in Lafayette today.
Last month, KATC caught up with Leblanc at the Lafayette Regional Airport as he and his family prepared to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony where Leblanc was being honored. After weather conditions and technical difficulties delayed Leblanc’s flights, he and his family were left with no way to get to the nation’s capital. That was until LHC Group contacted the family and provided them with a plane and pilot. For more on Leblanc’s trip to D.C., click here.
During today’s ceremony, Col. William Rachal, the 256th IBCT commander, presented Leblanc with the brigade colors, and GOHSEP Director James Waskom presented the Governor’s commendation and GOHSEP Certificate.
Leblanc, 96, is a native of Abbeville. He graduated from Abbeville High School in 1938, and from Louisiana State University in 1942, majoring in Geology and Mathematics. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on May 18, 1942.
In 1943, Leblanc volunteered for duty with the Office of Strategic Services and served in the 3rd Army, Headquarters, Special Operations (Special Forces Detachment No. 11) as a special operations liaison officer between Patton’s Army and the French Underground. In 1945, Leblanc was transferred to the China-Burma Theater where he served as a special operations officer with the OSS Detachment, Kunning, China. He was released from active duty in December 1945.
After WWII, Leblanc joined the LANG and organized H Company, 156th Infantry in Abbeville. He was the deputy brigade commander of the 39th Infantry Division, commanded 1st Brigade, 39th Infantry Division and commanded the 256th Infantry Brigade. He was also assigned as the Director, Emergency Operations and Commanding General, Louisiana Army National Guard Command, New Orleans.
Leblanc holds several distinguished awards from his time in service, including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three stars, World War II Victory Medal, Louisiana Distinguished Service Medal, Louisiana Cross of Merit and the Order of Saint Maurice.
He was inducted into LSU Cadets of the Old War School Hall of Honor in November 2000 and the Order of Living Legends by the Acadian Museum of Erath in October 2001. He was also inducted into the LANG Hall of Fame in March 2006.
As a civilian, Leblanc became employed as a rural carrier for the U.S. Post Office. He was promoted to Postmaster of Abbeville in 1960. In 1972, he was promoted to sectional center manager/postmaster of Lafayette, where he supervised 93 post offices in southwest Louisiana. He also documented the need for new postal stations, which became the Energy Station, Postal Square Station and the Ambassador Caffery Station. While he was SCF Manager, he swore in more postmasters than any other SCF manager.
Leblanc was married to the late Helen Della LaPlace. They have three children, seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.