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Louis J. LaLonde

Louis J. LaLonde

April 17, 1919 - February 14, 2019
Maple City, Michigan | Age 99


Louis Joseph LaLonde Jr was born April 17, 1919 to Louis Joseph LaLonde and Theresa Caroline (nee Nothaft) in Detroit, Michigan. Louis was the second child born. Mary Veronica (Ronnie) LaLonde was born 3/25/1918, Helen Elizabeth (Betty) LaLonde was born 8/17/1920, and James Howard LaLonde was born 6/5/1922. Tragedy beset the family as six months after the birth of his youngest brother James, his mother died 12/16/1922, and then James died 6 months later 5/23/1923. Louis Joseph LaLonde Jr. worked various jobs throughout his life including machinist, night watchman, and janitor. Louis remembers being run over by a scraper when he was 8 or 9 years old when he tried to catch a ride on it. His proudest moments were from his service in WWII. He enlisted in the Unites States Army on 02/02/1942 at 23 years of age. While in the Army, Louis was in England and waiting on the Generals (Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, and Patten as Louis noted) tables as they planned the invasion of Normandy in the next couple of days. Louis wrote on the back of that he was wounded in action August 16, 1955 and received an Honorable Medical Discharge on November 16, 1945. He wrote that he was in Normandy in the Battle of St. Low and other battles. He recalled the story in some newspaper articles written years later. He ended up being part of the invasion force when they landed on Normandy and was wounded in action and at one point left for dead. Louis recalled a small mortar shell went through his right leg, said it put a hole in his leg the size of a water glass. Another mortar went off and knocked his helmet off his head. He said he must have reached out and put it back on his head just as another shell exploded and he was out cold. He said it was like a ball of fire. He had four pieces of shrapnel in his head, hands, arms, and shoulders. He stated that the medics had thought he was dead several times, but somehow he revived long enough to let them know he was not. He was hospitalized and at some point his ID must have gotten mixed up with someone else and word was sent home that he had died in battle. He was originally reported killed in action, survived field treatment, hospitalization and emergency head surgery to get him to England before the long trip home by ship. (Louis recounted that in the hospital they operated cutting his scalp like a horse shoe then cutting a hole the size of a quarter then putting a sponge on it and covering it with bandages so they could fly him to England). His sister Helen was in the Navy Nurses Corp at the time and was scheduled to go overseas. She was told she could not because her brother was killed in action. She stayed back state side and served as a Nurse. Her friend nurse was sent overseas and ended up finding Louis in the hospital in England, identifying him. Helen told her children that a nurse friend of hers had called to tell her Louis was in the hospital in England and she said "no, he had died". The nurse said she was sure that it was him and that he was really alive. Louis had many surgeries in England. He had bone graphs and a steel plate put in the back of his head. Mark Holkup remembers Louis telling the story of when he was wounded and left for dead while visiting his sister at the Holkup farm. Louis mentioned he learned parts of the story from his friends afterwards. Louis said the truck which was sent out to pick up the wounded was loaded. It stopped at a hedgerow to load more wounded and unload any of those that had died. Louis was presumed dead and left there. A soldier from his company was left to watch the dead and later when he told the story to Louis he said "Frenchie, you was dead". Louis received the Purple Heart for his actions in WWII. In December 2001 Louis Joseph LaLonde Jr was awarded the "Special Diploma" from the Government of France for his contribution in the fight to Liberate France from the Axis Powers in World War II. His life nearly ended when he underwent surgery on his legs (receiving bone grafts) at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. According to Louis, he was hurt so badly and lost so much blood he and a WAC who had lost a leg were not expected to live. They were pushed into the morgue with all the pine boxes, he said. When he came to, he started to holler. The WAC then also revived and a nurse found them and removed them back into the hospital. He had many follow up surgeries and related health issues throughout his life. He was able to walk and carry on a fairly normal life after this, however, like many WWII Veterans he was forever impacted by the war. Many individuals felt that he spent his life with PSTD issues, although it was never diagnosed with many of the WWII Veterans. Louis married Ruth Schneider September 14, 1946 in Lansing, Michigan. They had one daughter Margret Lu LaLonde, also known as Peggy. Margret married Jimmy (James) Lee and we have no additional information on them. Louis and Ruth later divorced and Louis lost touch with his daughter Margret.
Louis was 99 years old, about 2 months shy of his 100th birthday at his passing on February 14, 2019. He was residing at the Maple Valley Nursing Home in Maple, Michigan. The Cremation and initial arrangements were made by the Reynolds-Jonkoff Funeral Home in Traverse City, MI.
His cremated remains were then transferred to Wujek-Calcaterra Funeral Home in Sterling Heights, MI where the Visitation and Memorial Service is set for May 17, 2019 from 3-9pm with a 7pm Funeral Service with Military Honors. Inurnment on May 20, 2019 at 1:30pm at the VA National Cemetery in Holly, MI.

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