Four veterans will be recognized during the annual Veterans Day program set for 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, in Treen Auditorium and presented by the Student Government Organization at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.
The honorees include Capt. Cregg Brundige, Rachel Hayes, LCDR Aaron Johnson and Capt. (Marines) John Garland Williams.
Cregg Brundige was born in 1968 in Minot, N.D., and his parents are both from Canada. His father was a member of the U.S. Air Force, and Brundige moved around until he graduated from high school in Arizona in 1987. He joined the Air Force as an airman, was honorably discharged, and moved back to Arizona before serving in the Louisiana Army National Guard from 1998-2000. He met and married his wife, the former Michelle Lehman, in Dallas in 1995. Brundige began work in fire service in 1997 and worked at England Air Park Fire Department until 1999. He has been captain and paramedic/hazmat technician for the Natchitoches Fire Department since 1999. He is also a paramedic and worked full-time for Mex Express Ambulance from 1998 and now works part time. He also worked as a reserve police officer in Natchitoches from 1999-2002, is a part-time deputy sheriff in Sabine Parish, works as a gunsmith and teaches fire, EMS and CPR classes. He is completing his bachelor’s degree in unified public safety administration from Northwestern State University.
Rachel Hayes, a 1988 graduate of LSMSA, joined the Louisiana National Guard at 19 during peace time, enlisting in November 1988. Two years later, the United States entered a conflict with Iraq, which mobilized her unit. She spent nine-and-a-half months in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. Her awards include the Southwest Asia Service medal with bronze service stars, the Army Commendation medal and the Army Achievement medal with two oak leaf clusters. Her unit also received the Presidential Commendation award upon its return from the Persian Gulf. For the past five years, Hayes has been working with veterans to increase awareness surrounding military service. She has worked with the community to build community gardens at the Veterans Retirement Home, served veterans experiencing homelessness and worked with community leaders to provide better medical and mental health care for veterans.
Aaron Johnson is a native of Lebanon, Ore. He enlisted in the Navy in 1990 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) class 178. He later graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science degree in international business. While enlisted, Johnson’s operational assignments included two tours with SEAL Team THREE. Additionally, he attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., where he studied the Arabic language. Johnson was commissioned in 1997 and filled operational roles at SEAL Team EIGHT, SEAL Team TEN and SEAL Team TWO. His staff assignments include duty as the operations officer at Naval Special Warfare Unit THREE and Officer in Charge of Naval Special Warfare Detachment SOUTH. He is married to the former Lisa Vienne of Natchitoches and has four children.
John G. Williams
John G. Williams, of Natchitoches, graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in 1962. He graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with a degree in agribusiness and graduated from Tulane Law School with a Juris Doctorate Degree in civil law. He entered the U.S. Marine Corps on active duty in September 1968 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in February 1969. He graduated from the Naval Justice School in August 1969 and joined the 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendelton, Calif., where he was a defense lawyer, a prosecutor and finally was appointed by the Secretary of the Navy as a military judge. Williams returned home and began to practice law. He began teaching business law as an adjunct professor at Northwestern State University in the fall of 1973 and joined the full time faculty in 1992. He is married to the former Suzanne Gilbert Williams and they have three children: Brooke, a graduate of NSU and principal of Fairview Alpha Elementary School; Shelly, a graduate of LSU and LSU Law School and Seton Hall Law School with a Master of Law in health law; and John Scott “Scotty” Williams, who works for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and is also a graduate of NSU and holds a master’s degree in heritage resources from NSU.