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Mon Cher Camarade

MON CHER CAMARADE tells the story – never before told – of the French-speaking Cajun soldiers in WWII. Hundreds of French-Louisiana Cajuns served as interpreters for their field commanders and several of them were secret agents who passed as locals to work with the French underground. This documentary blends an original music sound track, 35mm film footage and HD interviews with stunning archival footage from the National Archives in a storytelling fashion that puts the storytelling where it belongs – on the shoulders of those veterans.

Background

During World War II, hundreds of French-speaking Cajun men from South Louisiana enlisted in the U.S. military. Their linguistic skills and French heritage had been denigrated for decades in South Louisiana and was ridiculed as well by American officers in the processing centers at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Remarkably, these same men found that their ability to speak French became of vital importance to the American war effort in French North Africa and in France and Belgium. French-speaking Cajuns not only worked with the French resistance after D-Day, but they also provided the U.S. Army’s most effective means of communication with local authorities and the civilian population, which, in turn, provided critical support and intelligence to the American army. Indeed, Cajun translators were as important to the American war effort as the now much acclaimed Native American “Code Talkers,” yet, the Cajun translators’ contributions in this regard have been largely ignored until now.

The Film

This documentary film, through memoirs and interviews of French-speaking Cajuns who served in WWII either as members of the OSS or as citizen soldiers, tells the story of this important aspect of the American war effort in Europe. Additionally, cultural scholars provide insight into the stories of these veterans from both an historic and linguistic perspective. As a result, this documentary film allows the audience to take a new look at the American experience, from a South Louisiana perspective. The Cajun G.I.’s of World War II were American citizens, however, their cultural pedigree was tributary to something other than the typical American experience. The end result is a film that acknowledges the unique and important contributions of the French-speaking Cajun soldiers to the war effort and gives long overdue credit to them and their linguistic skills and French heritage.

“Cajun translators were as important to the American war effort as the much acclaimed Native American ‘Code Talkers;’ yet, the Cajun translators’ contributions have been entirely ignored.” – Historian Carl A. Brasseaux, Ph.D., ULL

Credits

“As my friend and scholar, Carl Brasseaux, assured me when I expressed concern that this film should have been made years ago, 'No, Pat, they weren’t talking then.' I thank them for talking now, telling their stories and, ultimately, in so many ways, making this film possible." – Pat Mire, Director

THIS PROGRAM WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY A GRANT FROM THE LOUISIANA ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Pat Mire

PRODUCED BY Pat Mire in Association with Louisiana Public Broadcasting

EDITED BY Todd Justice Pat Mire

ORIGINAL MUSIC BY Sam Broussard

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Rebecca L. Hudsmith

MEMOIRS OF SAM S. BROUSSARD TO STEPHEN AMBROSE: Courtesy of The Family of Sam S. Broussard – Simone Guillory and Dot Broussard

VOICE OF SAM S. BROUSSARD: Gene Billeaudeaux

HD AND DIGITAL CAMERA: Eric Breaux,Rex Q. Fortenberry

35MM CAMERA: JWJ “Jimmy” Ferguson

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY AND BIRD WRANGLER: Neil Hahn

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY: Robin May

SOUND RECORDIST?: Terry Dupuis

GAFFER: Keith Crews

GRIPS: David Brasseaux, Erik Charpentier, Ph.D.

CONTINUITY: Rebecca L. Hudsmith

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Chelsea Breazeale

POST-PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: Chris Miranda

GRAPHICS: Todd Justice, Mark Carroll

MUSIC SUPERVISOR: Pat Mire

POST-PRODUCTION SOUND MIX: Todd Justice

FILM LAB: CineFilm Lab, Atlanta, Georgia

HARD DRIVE TRANSFER: Jeff Cotten LA Post, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

RESEARCH CONSULTANTS: Carl A. Brasseaux, Ph.D. Barry Ancelet, Ph.D. Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D. Jean-Pierre Bruneau Erik Charpentier, Ph.D. Jason P. Theriot

LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING: Ken Miller, Production Manager; Clay Fourrier, Executive Producer; Steve Graziano, Deputy Director; Beth Courtney, President and CEO

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE OF WWII: Courtesy of U.S. Army and National Archives

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE OF LT. ALBERT BURLEIGH: Courtesy of Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D.

COMBAT! FOOTAGE: Courtesy of Image Entertainment

DEDANS LE SUD DE LA LOUISIANE FOOTAGE: Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Bruneau

“LA VALSE DE LA VEUVE” AND “VALSE DE POINTE NOIRE” By Angelas LeJeune

A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL THE VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO HELPED MAKE THIS PROJECT POSSIBLE, INCLUDING: Carroll Mestayer Felix Mire Retired Brigadier General Robert LeBlanc Lee Bernard Charles Bernard Lucien Martin Louis and Susan Mire Andy Reaux Robert and Cindy Brown Missy Benoit Randy Richard Marsha Englebrecht Cathy Bacon

A SPECIAL THANKS TO THE LOUISIANA ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES: Michael Sartisky Walker Lassiter Jennifer Mitchel

A SPECIAL THANKS TO THE LAFAYETTE CONVENTION & VISITORS COMMISSION: Gerald Breaux

A SPECIAL THANKS TO THE CENTER FOR CULTURAL AND ECO-TOURISM, ULL: Carl Brasseaux Jennifer Ritter