Five individuals honored with Patriot Award at Mayor’s Armed For - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Five individuals honored with Patriot Award at Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission Patriots Ball

Ed Hudson (Source: City of Lake Charles) Ed Hudson (Source: City of Lake Charles)
Don Dixon (Source: City of Lake Charles) Don Dixon (Source: City of Lake Charles)
Thom Hager (Source: City of Lake Charles) Thom Hager (Source: City of Lake Charles)
Randy Roach (Source: City of Lake Charles) Randy Roach (Source: City of Lake Charles)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Five individuals were recognized by Mayor Nic Hunter and Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission President Colonel James Jackson with the Patriot Award for the year 2016-2017. The 11th Annual Mayor's Armed Forces Commission Patriots Ball was held on July 1 at the Lake Charles Civic Center and emceed by Heather Ieyoub.

The Patriot Awards are presented each year in honor of individuals who exemplify patriotism. The Patriot Award reads as follows: “If you look into the heart of a Patriot you will find they are all the same.  It is not what they expect from their country but more what they could do for their fellow man. They expect nothing in return. Their Honor, Integrity and Character are above all else. For their endless dedication to helping our veterans, past, present, and future, Thank You.”

Edward C. Hudson

The Military Patriot of the Year was presented to First Sergeant Edward C. Hudson, Sr. U.S. Army (Ret.). Hudson graduated from W.O. Boston High School top of his class in 1963 and was drafted into the Army in 1966. After his service in the Army, he returned to Lake Charles and was employed by Citgo for 30 years. He joined the National Guard in 1976 and retired after 22 years as First Sergeant.

Mr. Hudson is a life member of American Legion Post 551 and has held the position of state vice commander. He is an active member of VVA Chapter 1098, AAMVETS Post 0007, Forty and Eight Voiture Locale 274, and a past president of the Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission. Mr. Hudson is a 37-year member of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Don Dixon

The First Responders Patriot of the Year was presented to Lake Charles Chief of Police Don Dixon. Chief Dixon served in the Federal Bureau of Investigations from 1972 to 2001. During his tenure there, he was stationed in field offices in Tampa, Birmingham, New York and Lake Charles. Chief Dixon was employed to Kenya in 1998 to assist in the investigations of the American Embassy bombing by Al-Qaeda.

He accepted the position of Chief of Police in January 2002. Since becoming Chief, he has implemented the following progressive changes: implemented a SWAT Team, created juvenile, sex crimes and domestic violence divisions, and he was instrumental in creating the combined anti-drug multi-jurisdictional task force. Special recognitions include Southeast United States Narcotics Investigation Award in 2003; 2004 SWLA Bar Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year; and 2004 NAACP Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Thom Hager

The Civilian Patriot of the Year was presented to Thom Hager. Hager moved to Lake Charles in 1982 after traveling throughout the United States as a professional musician. He worked at Lake Charles Music before finding his way into broadcast media, first in sales, then in management. In 1993, Mr. Hager took a position in Tampa, Florida, and quadrupled sales for Jacor Broadcasting in just four years.

Upon moving back to Lake Charles, he helped launch the Lake Charles Ice Pirates Hockey Team, and when the partners sold the team, he launched the Lake Charles Landsharks Arena Football team for an out-of-town owner. Four years later, he kicked off a team of his own—the Louisiana Swashbucklers. Most recently, he produced the Gator Grand Prix Go-Kart Race to raise funds for local veterans.  Mr. Hager says he never served “in the military,” so he “serves the military” whenever he can to say thanks for their service.

Matilda Geddings Gray

The Posthumous Patriot of the Year was presented to the family of Ms. Matilda Geddings Gray. Ms. Gray died on June 8, 1971 at the age of 82 and was the daughter of John Geddings Gray and Mary Kirkman Gray. She was widely known for her many philanthropic endeavors. Of particular note to local veterans, Ms. Gray donated the land for building two American Legion homes in Lake Charles: the Henry Gray Memorial Home of W.B. Williamson Post 1 (located at 1530 Ninth Street) and the Mayfield-Taylor-McClain Post 551 (located at 623 Enterprise Boulevard).

She was internationally known and has been honored by three countries. England awarded her the Honorary Order of the British Empire; France the Legion D’ Honour and Reconnaissance Francais; and Guatemala El Ordon Del Quetzal. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Orleans Club in New Orleans and Le Petit Salon, and the Phi Mu Sorority. Her legacy continues through the business and philanthropic endeavors of her family.

Randy Roach

A Special Recognition was presented to former Mayor Randy Roach, the Patriot 2000-2017 Award. A Lake Charles native, former Mayor Roach graduated from LSU with his law degree in 1976. He served as the City of Lake Charles Assistant City Attorney from 1985 to 1987, representing the City in all phases of the Chennault Consolidation project. He served two terms in the Louisiana Legislature beginning in 1988 as a state representative. Roach was elected Lake Charles Mayor in 2000 and is the longest-serving mayor in Lake Charles history, having served 17 years.

As mayor, Roach helped the city rebuild following Hurricane Rita and worked closely with city and parish governments to form partnerships and pool resources benefitting the community. He was a strong voice for the creation of the Southwest Louisiana Partnership for Economic Development, and he worked with the Police Jury to create Lake Charles Ward 3 Recreation Board. Under his administration, 1911 Historic City Hall was established as an arts and cultural center, the new transit center downtown was opened, and a new Lake Charles City Court building was constructed.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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