Curney J. Dronet, Sr *
Inducted on March 08, 2003
Curney J. Dronet was born in Prairie Gregg on July 5, 1923. He was the only child of Joe and Eula Nunez Dronet, tenant farmers and fur trappers.
The family moved to Erath in 1929.Curney was enrolled in Erath Elementary school in 1929 and, like many others, spoke only French upon entering school.
In 1936, he began an exceptional 4 years of high school, excelling in both academics and athletics. He was captain of the softball team that won the State
Championship in 1940 and was selected to the All-region basketball team. Not only was he was recognized as the outstanding athlete that year, he was alsoelected class president and named Valedictorian for the 1940 graduating class.
Dronet then enrolled at SLI and then transferred to Spencer Business College, graduating in 1941 with a Diploma in bookkeeping, typing and business machines. That same summer, he married his school sweetheart, Irene LeBlanc. They have seven children, twenty grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.
In May of 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp as an aviation cadet. He attended Canisus College in Buffalo, New York, and then received pre-flight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama followed by Bombardiering and Navigation Training at Midland Army Air Base in Midland, Texas. He remained in Midland, Texas as a Bombardier and Navigation Flight Instructor until the surrender of Japan in August of 1945.
In 1946, he joined the newly-chartered American Legion Post 3872 and was selected as Vice Commander. In 1948, he opened Dronet’s Department Store.
In 1954, Dronet was elected to the Vermilion Parish School Board. In that position, he began an aggressive campaign to improve education by consolidation of schools and worked to introduce vocational education in high school. In 1957, he helped to acquire three acres of land from the Erath Sugar Company in order to build the football stadium. He then persuaded Mr. Conrad Derouen to donate land for the cinder track in memoriam of his son “Snooks” who had died a hero’s death during WW II.
In 1949, he enlisted as a 2nd Lt. in H Company, 2nd Bn. 156th Infantry and in 1951 was selected to command the company. In 1957, he attended in residence the Associate career course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon his return, he was promoted to the rank of major. In 1963, with another reorganization of the National Guard, he was selected to command the 2nd Bn., headquartered in Abbeville, and was promoted to Lt. Colonel serving for six years.
During his command, in 1964, he was directly involved with the recovery in the tragic disaster of Hurricane Hilda, in which the Erath water tower collapsed on City Hall killing 8 civil defense workers.
During the mid-sixties, during the highly inflammatory civil rights era, his battalion was charged with providing the “point” in clearing the route for state police who were escorting a large contingent of civil rights marchers, from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge, providing them the opportunity to air their grievances with Governor McKeithen. In 1969, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and was assigned as Director of Intelligence.
In 1971, civil strife broke out at Southern University when two students were killed after taking over the administration building. Dronet was assigned by the Adjutant General, O.J. Daigle, to employ the 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry to secure the campus facilities following the evacuation of the student body.
Following his retirement, Dronet enrolled in a “Life Writing” class at ULL and began writing the Dronet Family Biography which he successfully published in 2002.
In 1996, he began the task of writing an historic perspective of Erath and Vermilion Parish. The book, “A Century of Acadian Culture” was published in 2000 and the copyrights and the proceeds of the sale of the book were graciously donated to support operations of the Acadian Museum.
General Dronet is now researching and compiling information, and has begun to write another book, “A Perspective View: The Louisiana Brigade”, which will chronicle the 256th Infantry Brigade since its inception. Warren Perrin, museum founder said, “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Mr. Dronet, our Acadian Museum has been able to continue to expand our programs and facilities.”