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Lakewood Man Receives French Honor for WWII Service

A Lakewood combat veteran was recently honored with one of France’s highest distinctions – an honor that has been decades in the making.

Floyd Exeter, 91, fought in World War II and was honored 70 years ago for distinguishing himself in combat. Positioned behind a machine gun during the Battle of the Bulge, he survived a bullet to the helmet and continued to fight valiantly. Exeter was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions that day. The French gave him the Croix de Guerre for a “distinguished act of heroism.”

On Saturday, Dec. 20, the French consul recognized him again, awarding him its highest decoration—the Chevalier Legion of Honor Medal. About 10,000 former American GIs have received it. It is considered the highest decoration bestowed by France, and must be approved by that country’s president. You can see King 5’s video of the ceremony here: .

During the award speech, the representative of the French consulate said Exeter would “be forever France’s hero.”

Exeter did not think of himself as a hero, but he accepted the consul’s praise humbly.

“It’s quite a significant thing, that to this date they still want to go to all the bother, heaping big honors on me,” he said. “And it is an honor. I’m not going to depreciate, in anyway, what they are trying to do for me.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Exeter sat in the Lakewood home he built himself in 1964 with the News Tribune’s Larry Larue to share his story.

He was drafted into the Army in March 1943. Exeter passed the tests to transfer into the Air Corps, and for five months he trained as a pilot. However, he and his entire group were told the need for pilots was not as great as the need for infantry.

Exeter, a private first class, was transferred to the 63rd Infantry Division and shipped off to France in November 1944. He fought in the Rhineland and Ardennes campaigns.

To learn more, check out the News Tribune’s story here:

City Offices Closed For Christmas Holiday

In observance of the Christmas holiday, Lakewood City Hall and the Lakewood Police Station will close at 3 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 24, and be closed Thursday, Dec. 25. If you have an after-hours, Public Works-related emergency, please contact (253) 267-1628. If you have an after-hours, Police-related matter, contact (253) 798-4722 or 911 if it’s an emergency.

Benning Potoa'e Chosen for U.S. Marines Game, Given City Coin

Lakes High School defensive end Benning Potoa'e credits much of his hard-work ethic to his father, Aleki, a first sergeant in the 5th Battalion, 200th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Being in the military has really helped me out," the younger Potoa'e says. "My dad being a soldier, him going through his routines, waking me up in the morning, it has really helped me out."

"Him being in his position, he's used to yelling at people," added Benning, one of the most highly touted recruits on the West Coast, "so it put me in a position to listen to him."

On Dec. 16, the same military that served as the foundation for Potoa'e's determination rewarded him with one of the most prestigious high school football honors in the country, when the United States Marine Corps invited him to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

During a ceremony at the Lakewood high school , Potoa'e, 18, was presented with an honorary game jersey, although No. 15 won't likely be his number in the game that takes place Jan. 4 at The StubHub Centr in Carson, Calif., and will be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1. A few numbers regarding Potoa'e that Lakewood residents might want to remember, however:

  • 100: The number of student-athletes from across the United States who will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl based on their athletic prowess, academic success and embodiment of the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment
  • 4: The number of Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl players from the Pacific Northwest
  • 3: The number of Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl players from Washington

Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson and City Councilmember Mary Moss attended Potoa'e's ceremony, given Lakewood's deep and longstanding relationship with the military.

"I think it's particularly approriate that Benning selected to play defense given that some of our best defenders are the sponsors of the game," Anderson said.

"Being a military community, we have adopted one of the military customs in that the City of Lakewood has its own coin," said the Mayor, who then presented Potoa'e and his family with an official emblem of the City's recognition. "We really appreciate your hard work, the honor that you brought to Lakes High School and our community."

The City of Lakewood has posted a piece on Potoa'e's ceremony on its YouTube channel .

Wounded Warrior Project-Albertsons $50K

On Thursday, Dec. 18, Albertsons awarded the Wounded Warrior Project a check for $50,000. The money was raised in November through two weeks worth of sales on specially marked items at 104 stores in Washington and Oregon.

The check was given to Wounded Warrior Project representatives at the Albertsons located on
8611 Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest. In attendance were Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson, City Councilmembers Marie Barth, Paul Bocchi, Mary Moss and John Simpson, as well as City Manager John Caulfield, state Rep. Dick Muri, soldiers from Joint Base-Lewis McChord and Linda Smith, President/CEO of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.

Attendees had the chance to pose with Wounded Warrior Project and their check, and enjoy a handsome cake.

For photos from the ceremony:

Suburban Times: City Helped Remove 'Parking Lot Lake'

Here's more proof the City of Lakewood is listening to its residents and businesses.

In a story published Dec. 16 in the Suburban Times , author Ken Upton wrote about the "parking lot lake" that regularly forms during rainy seasons in front of the Hobby Lobby and Big Lots stores in the 5400 block of 100th Street Southwest.

Upton wrote how he contacted the City. Compliance Inspector Diana Halar worked to locate the store's management company, which eventually had the lake pumped and the sediment blocking the drainage removed.

"I applaud and appreciate the effort Diana put forth in just a few days to address and resolve the mystery of the 'parking lot lake,'” Upton wrote, "and I hereby nominate her for 'City Employee of the Month!'

Read the whole story on the Suburban Times website . It's a good one.

Great job, Diana! #IamLakewood