The National WWII Museum mourns the passing of John P. Laborde, a WWII veteran, successful businessman, community leader, and one of the founding Board members of The National D-Day Museum Foundation. A Trustee Emeritus of The National WWII Museum, John passed away on October 21, just two weeks shy of his 98th birthday.
John first served on the Museum’s Board from 1992 to 1994, working alongside Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, Stephen Ambrose, and others to complete the arduous task of raising the funds and developing the plans that would turn The National D-Day Museum into a reality. Never afraid of hard work, John rejoined the Board in 2000–2002 during one of the Museum’s most critical junctures. Following the Grand Opening of The National D-Day Museum in June 2000, John supported efforts to establish the policies that would steer this young museum into the future, as well as to develop The D-Day Invasions in the Pacific Galleries, which were particularly important to him.
John remained an active supporter of the Museum over the last 20-plus years, serving as co-chair of the 2009 Victory Ball with his wife, Sylvia; naming a room at The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center; and attending numerous programs and events. He was immensely proud of his involvement with the Museum and of being named a recipient of the Museum’s Silver Service Medallion in 2017 and then a Trustee Emeritus in 2019.
John's WWII service made the Museum’s mission deeply personal to him. He was drafted in 1942 while enrolled at LSU and sent to Fort Benning, Georgia in early 1943 to attend Officer Candidate School where he finished first in his class at 19 years old. He was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division in the Philippines before being selected to serve on General MacArthur’s advance Headquarters staff preparing for the invasion of Okinawa and Japan. After Japan’s surrender, John spent a year in Tokyo as part of MacArthur’s transition team before returning home to enroll in law school at LSU.
John was not the only Laborde with a distinguished service record. A graduate of the Naval Academy, his older brother Alden served as commander of three combat vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, arriving on the Japanese shore a few days after the atomic bombs were deployed. Similarly, his brother Lucien was a veteran of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, eventually crossing into Germany where he was when the war in Europe ended.
The Museum is honored to have John's oral history available on our digital collections website and to be home to the Laborde Services Gallery in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center in honor of Alden, John, Lucien & C.E. Laborde, a permanent tribute to the wartime service of the Laborde family.
"John was a role model to many of us, and it is a privilege to have had him as a strong advocate for our institution, particularly in those challenging, early days," said Museum President & CEO Stephen J. Watson. "It has been an honor to know John and to be trusted with preserving and sharing John, Alden, and Lucien’s legacies of service and sacrifice."