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BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

In contrast to the welcome they might have received during basic training, the veterans honored Thursday at the fifth annual “Hats Off To Veterans Luncheon,” experienced a quite different red carpet treatment at the Yambilee Building.

Nearly 75 military veterans also received gift bags, buckets of cleaning supplies, a walk through a carpeted corridor of cheerleaders, along with their years of service recognized during the well-attended noon affair hosted by a variety of sponsors and donors.

Home Depot donated $6,185 worth of cleaning supplies to veterans that possessed the appropriate tickets, while dance students coached by Marguerite Fontenot of the Magnet Academy of Cultural Arts, performed a series of colorful patriotic routines.

Guest speaker for the event was St. Landry Parish resident Vickie Bailey, who spoke about her military experiences.

Bailey recounted a Southeast Asia trip as a member of a recovery team that located the remains of a Vietnam-era co-pilot whose aircraft crashed into a Cambodian jungle.

Operating with a remains identification team based in Hawaii, Bailey said the experience was rewarding, since the remains of the co-pilot were available for viewing by his family members before a proper military ceremony was scheduled to occur.

The remains of the aviator, who died in 1972, were identified through DNA testing, Bailey said.