May 2, 2012 - Lawrence Ardoin

When he was drafted into the Army in September of 1966, Lawrence Ardoin had no idea what was in store for him.  In July of 1967, he was sent to Vietnam.

"But once you leave, and you go to a place like this, you think, I'm leaving," said Ardoin.  "I'm going to war and I'm wondering if I'm ever going to set foot back here.  It's something that stays with you. "

His experience as a mechanic at the old Majestic Hotel garage in Lake Charles was just what the Army needed:  someone to repair all of its vehicle in the Bearkat region.  He said American soldiers were told to watch out for mines placed in the roadway.

"If you pass over here today, pass over there tomorrow.  Don't go back over the same place.  They don't do that.  They would blow up two or three vehicles with mines, because they knew the Americans were going back over the same place.  That's why a lot of people got hurt in that war for not listening."

Ardoin says Vietnam is a beautiful country, but it took a while for him to adjust to it's traditions and culture.

"What tripped me out one day, we had to kill a mouse running around.  We killed that thing and one of the guys was cleaning up and he was going to throw it away.  A (Vietnamese man)  said "No! No! No!  We didn't know what he was talking about.  He took that thing and he ate it.  Aww, man."

Lawrence Ardoin comes from a long line of Zydeco musicians and is the father of Zydeco performers Sean and Chris Ardoin.