Friday, May 04, 2012

TFH 5/4: First Lieutenant Douglas B. Fournet, USA

Douglas Bernard Fournet was born on May 7, 1943 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. After graduating from McNeese State University in his home town, and with full knowledge that his country was at war, he volunteered to enlist in the United States Army in 1966 and went through Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On May 4, 1968, now First Lieutenant Fournet was the leader of the 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. 1/7 Cavalry at the time was an airmobile infantry unit with the storied 1st Cavalry Division. During an attack against fortified hilltop, Fournet's platoon came under sniper fire and then realized that they were imminent risk of being decimated by an antipersonnel mine.

Leadership is from the front, and Doug Fournet knew that he couldn't order one of his men to deal with the mine if he wasn't willing to do it himself. His actions saw him posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor.


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and date: A Shau Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 4 May 1968. Entered service at: New Orleans, La. Born: 7 May 1943, Lake Charles, La. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Fournet, Infantry, distinguished himself in action while serving as rifle platoon leader of the 2d Platoon, Company B. While advancing uphill against fortified enemy positions in the A Shau Valley, the platoon encountered intense sniper fire, making movement very difficult. The right flank man suddenly discovered an enemy claymore mine covering the route of advance and shouted a warning to his comrades. Realizing that the enemy would also be alerted, 1st Lt. Fournet ordered his men to take cover and ran uphill toward the mine, drawing a sheath knife as he approached it. With complete disregard for his safety and realizing the imminent danger to members of his command, he used his body as a shield in front of the mine as he attempted to slash the control wires leading from the enemy positions to the mine. As he reached for the wire the mine was detonated, killing him instantly. Five men nearest the mine were slightly wounded, but 1st Lt. Fournet's heroic and unselfish act spared his men of serious injury or death. His gallantry and willing self-sacrifice are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army. 

Lieutenant Fournet's name is found on Panel 54E, Line 33 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. He rests in peace at the Kinder McRill Memorial Cemetery in Kinder, Louisiana. When Fournet was killed in action, his wife was pregnant with their son; a son who'd never know his father. On a Saturday afternoon in July 2010, Lieutenant Fournet's son Bill attended the induction of this great American into the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum. Also present were the grandsons: Douglas, David, and John.

His Vietnam-era unit - today known as the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry - is the armored reconnaissance element of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division. They are based at Fort Hood, Texas and have recently returned from a deployment to fight in Afghanistan.

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