Morgan J. Landry / Houma Courier Correspondent
VACHERIE The St. James Parish School Board has decided to not name the access road leading to the new St. James High School football stadium in honor of a local Army veteran who was killed in 2006 in Iraq.
Faye Crawford, a former Vacherie resident who lives in Missouri, said she has been petitioning Vacherie and St. James Parish for over a year to name the road after her son, Sgt. Jay Ryan Gauthreaux, 26.
'We decided we are not going to do that,' School Board President Charles Nailor said.
Nailor said several local residents have lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War, World Wars I and II and other conflicts, and the School Board wants to pay a fair tribute to all.
'We also had a kid that died on the football field,' he said. 'We looked at all those incidents and what have you and other lives that were lost. It would be an injustice not to look at the whole picture of the Vacherie-St. James area. So, the board decided not to move forward with that,' he said.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Linda Colar, head of the St. James High School ROTC, said about 700 residents signed the petition to name the road Sgt. Jay Ryan Gauthreaux Way.
Crawford said she was disappointed the School Board didn't act on her request.
'Jay was the only one in St. James Parish killed in a recent war,' Crawford said, adding her son volunteered twice to go to war.
'My point to them,' she said of the School Board, 'is look at our national memorials. They didn't do it for all the presidents. Look at Mount Rushmore. We didn't put all the presidents on there. So that argument doesn't really make sense to me'.
Crawford said she knows she's biased because it's her son. But, she points at all the love shown to him.
'Four babies have been named after him,' she said.
Her son always wanted to be a soldier, Crawford said. As a little boy, he was fascinated with the military and always wanted to play soldier. He didn't bother with his senior trip after graduation and took off straight to the military.
Gauthreaux was killed Dec. 4, 2006, during Operation Iraqi Freedom by an improvised explosive device while driving the lead vehicle in a convoy.
'There were five in the vehicle when the roadside bomb went off and he was the only one killed,' his mother said.
Crawford said he left behind his son.
'What I am most proud of the most is that he was a single father in the military, and he was raising his son. And you know, that's got to be hard to get up at 5 o'clock. His son was 4 when he was killed.'
Crawford's website in her son's memory can be viewed at www.jaygauthreaux.org.
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