Ever heard of a pigeon relay race? Well several thousands of pigeons and their handlers will be participating the race across 11 states. These birds are drawing attention to a flock of causes.
HOMING PIGEONS FLY ACROSS AMERICA TO RAISE FUNDS FOR VETERANS
The Lafayette Racing Pigeon Club will participate in a cross country relay race helping to raise funds for Wounded Warriors. Over a 62 day period homing pigeons will fly a 4,000 mile relay race across 11 states. On September 11 the first team of birds flew from Vancouver, Washington to their home in Salem, Oregon. Teams of homing pigeons will continue these 50-250 mile relay legs until the final team arrives in Daytona Beach, Florida on Veteran’s Day November 11.
Crossing Louisiana the relay will see teams fly from Hamshire, Texas to Lake Charles, then to Lafayette, to Denham Springs, to Amite, to Slidell and a final leg to Pass Christian, Mississippi.
In Lafayette, Fred Werner will release a team of racing homing pigeons at the new Moncus Park.
Werner states that “ Moncus Park is the ideal release site since there are plans to build a Veterans Memorial here for which the park is currently soliciting donations.”
The message Werner is putting on his birds will also honor a famous homing pigeon from 100 years ago, “Cher Ami”.
Cher Ami was a military homing pigeon responsible for saving hundreds of lives by delivering lifesaving messages. Probably best known is the story of the “Lost Battalion” of the American Seventy-Seventh Infantry Division during World War I that had been isolated from other American forces in the Argonne Forest of France. They were surrounded by Germans, had no food and were running out of ammunition. The unit was being shelled by its own guns taking casualties. They had 3 military homing pigeons as the only means of requesting help. The first two unfortunately were shot down. On October 4, 1918 Cher Ami carried a message from Major Charles S. Whittlesey which read :
“WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALLEL 276.4 OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT”.
The pigeon flew 25 miles in 25 minutes despite being shot twice, in the chest and the leg carrying the message and blinded in one eye. Badly wounded she arrived in time to stop the firing and save 194 U.S. soldiers. For this heroic service the pigeon was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, a military honor usually reserved for soldiers. She was shipped back to the U.S. with General John J Pershing personally seeing her off. The little pigeon received the best medical care including a false leg to replace the one she lost. Eventually, however, she died of her wounds and is preserved in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
The message carried in October, 1918 is the same message Werner will have his birds carry October 2018 from Lafayette to Denham Springs to honor Cher Ami.
All funds raised from this unusual Homing Pigeon Relay Race will be donated to the non-profit Building Homes for Heroes. This organization hands over a customized home debt free to a wounded veteran every 11 days and help honor these wounded vets as the heroes they truly are. Donations can be made directly to Homes for Heroes using the website: www.BuildingHomesForHeroes.org
For information about the Moncus Park Veterans Memorial please see their website : https://moncuspark.org
or call 337-500-1177