World War II veteran’s art to be featured

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 19, 2011

Veterans look at the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. during the inaugural Covington Region Honor Flight. | File photo

A local World War II veteran, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient and artist will be honored Thursday with a reception and art exhibit.

LaFelt C. Brannon, who turned 90 on March 12, served his country beginning in 1941, when he was on the front lines at Omaha Beach in World War II. On Aug. 17, 1942, he was severely wounded at St. Milo, France.

In addition to his Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Brannon was awarded an expert infantry badge, good conduct and the combat infantry badge.

He is an award-winning painter who gets his inspiration from life on the farm. His father purchased property on Highway 84 in Sanford, a place where Brannon has spent most of his 90 years.

Brannon participated in the first Covington Region Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in May 2009, and the Honor Flight board is sponsoring the reception and exhibit.

“It came to our attention that Mr. Brannon was a very talented artist,” said CRHF president Tonitta Sauls. “We felt like it would be a good idea for our organization to promote the work of World War II artists because it would publicize their work and the Honor Flight.”

Brannon was encouraged to try oil painting when he decided to “slow down a bit,” and has won awards at the Covington County Fair for both oil and acrylic paintings.

“One of our board members saw his work at the fair and in his home and thought it would be a good idea to recognize him for his artist abilities,” Sauls said. “He went on our first trip, so we would like to recognize him for his efforts, and we would like to find other veteran artists.”

The first exhibit will be held Thurs., March 24 from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Opp Public Library and the second will be held Thurs., March 31 from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Andalusia Public Library.

The reception is also an opportune time to gather more information for those interested in the upcoming Honor Flight, which is open to all World War II and Korean veterans.

There are 145 seats available for veterans were deployed during these conflicts and have not previously participated, and applications are now being accepted.

The flight will depart Oct. 1, 2011, out of the South Alabama Regional Airport.

“We really want to make it a big deal,” Sauls said. “Last year, it was a historical event to fly that airplane from our airport. Although we had a good turnout for the sendoff and reception, we would like to triple or even quadruple that this year.

“We really people to put the Oct. 1 date on their calendars,” she said. “We selected the day because Auburn and Alabama will be playing away from home.”

Sauls said CRHF is the only hub in the area continuing its efforts to take veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorials.

“Prattville and Wiregrass are not continuing theirs,” she said. “We are trying to keep our trips minimal for a number of reasons – the main one being money.”

Additionally, Sauls said they do need guardians to accompany the veterans on the trip.

Cost is $550 per guardian.

Applications are due in August, she said.

Anyone interested in participating should contact Sauls at 334-488-5065; Ashley Eiland at 334- 222-2030 or Emilee Gage at 334-493-3070.