Bossier honors first responders, military with Patriot Awards

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Pictured left to right: L-R Christopher Davis, SPD officer accepting Angie Wilhite's award on her behalf, Jerry Keen, Chavolgo Myles, Neosha Benson, and Spencer Wiesner accept their 2019 Patriot Awards. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

The Bossier community gathered on a solemn date yesterday to honor local first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty. 

The Patriot Awards Luncheon, hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Bossier Civic Center in Bossier City Wednesday, Sept. 11.

The Bossier Patriot Awards luncheon recognizes first responders in Bossier City and Bossier and Caddo Parishes — law enforcement, fire/EMS teams, and military personnel.

The event first started as a celebration of first responders in 2002, but it was transformed into an awards ceremony in 2004.

This years 2019 Patriot Award honorees were:

  • Law Enforcement — Sgt. Christopher Davis, Bossier City Police Department, and Detective Angie Willhite, Shreveport Police Department.
  • Fire Protection — Lead Firefighter Jerry Keen, Barksdale Air Force Base Fire Department.
  • Emergency Communications — Officer Chavolgo Myles, Bossier Parish Communications.
  • Reserve/Guard Military — Tech Sgt. Neosha Benson, U.S. Air Force Reserve.
  • Active Duty Military — Senior Airman Spencer Wiesner, U.S. Air Force.
Rob Gaudet was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Patriot Awards. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

Special guest speaker at the luncheon was Rob Gaudet of the Cajun Navy Foundation.

The Cajun Navy Foundation helps people who are in distress before and after a disaster using technology and social media.

Gaudet said first responders are heroes and are not always in uniforms, saying they can be your next door neighbors.

“You might go to Facebook or ask your neighbor for help,” said Gaudet. “The Cajun Navy was created through social media and mobile apps and allows the ability to communicate through a walkie-talkie app to communicate to citizens in the field.

We didn’t bypass first responders, we supplemented them. And we continue to, when they are overwhelmed.” 

Gaudet is an entrepreneur and engineer who recognized that technology could connect citizens in whole new ways to help with disasters during the 2016 flooding that ravaged south Louisiana. His efforts to coordinate citizen-led rescues helped thousands left stranded by rising waters. For his efforts, he was selected as 2016-2017 Louisianian of the Year.

Through his experience Gaudet and his team created the CrowdRelief disaster relief social network, a platform for citizens to collaborate with nonprofits and businesses to help those affected by disasters.