Edwin Walter “Duffy” LaVigne 1920 – 2013Feb 26th, 2013 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: community
Edwin “Duffy” LaVigne, a Port Sulphur native, former councilman, and active community member, passed away at the age of 92, on February 13. LaVigne will be remembered by friends and family for his decorated military career and community leadership.
Shortly after graduating from LSU, LaVigne enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in January of 1942. As a top-notch pilot, he served as a flight instructor for the Air Corps, and had a hand in training the Tuskegee Airman.
His military career took him around the globe and through some of history’s most famous battles. Following his time as a flight instructor, LaVigne was a WWII fighter pilot and supported Patton’s Army in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. During his time in the Korean War, he was shot down twice during battle. In the late 1950’s, LaVigne was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California with Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to travel faster than sound.
During Vietnam, he took to the skies once again for reconnaissance missions.
Outside of the warzone, LaVigne served at the Pentagon under General Carroll, founding director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. LaVigne acted as Deputy Director of the DIA during the height of the Cold War. Before his retirement in 1970, he served as the Director of Manpower and Organization for the U.S. Air Force Europe. In 1977, he returned to his home of Port Sulphur.
His retirement from the military didn’t mean LaVigne would be retiring from the cockpit. Upon moving back to Port Sulphur, he constructed an airstrip behind his home, and named it Birdwin Airstrip— an homage to his mother, Birdina.
“I used to call it Port Sulphur International Airport,” joked Judge Michael Kirby, who knew LaVigne well.
LaVigne, an active member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, rode out Hurricane Katrina in the choir loft of the church with 10 others, and family says, he encouraged many to come back and rebuild after the storm.
“That was really important to him; this is his home and he wanted other people especially after the storm to know it’s possible to come back,” said his daughter Michelle.
Duffy LaVigne is survived by his children Edwin Walter Jr., Michelle LaVigne Lame, and Nancy LaVigne Finucan, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.