Dennis Trudeau will be 81 years old Thursday.
But he almost didn't live to see his 20th birthday.
In fact, Grovetown's mayor had just turned 19 when he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and parachuted into Normandy the night before D-Day: June 5, 1944.
In the days before night-vision goggles, Global Positioning Systems and precision-guided parachutes, Trudeau dropped three miles off target, landing in water and losing his gun, radio and pack. He soon was captured by German troops, and held as a prisoner of war until May 13, 1945 - five days after V-E Day.
With that kind of history behind him, it was awfully humbling that Trudeau could accept the invitation to receive honors on behalf of someone else - Marjorie Adams, a former member of his city council.
Adams, who passed away in February, was an incredible, selfless woman, who spent countless hours not only serving Grovetown, but helping to bring a little sunshine into the lives of our soldiers serving overseas and recuperating in local hospitals.
At Columbia County's Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration Saturday in Evans, Adams was remembered for her kind volunteer efforts. Trudeau was scheduled to receive the honor on her behalf, but was under the weather and in his place sent Vickie Capetillo - one of several who helped in Adams' project. We certainly hope he's feeling better.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mayor. And thank you for your service.
Rapist gets a break
So, it seems the Georgia Court of Appeals decided William Archer Stulb, a Martinez man sent to prison for statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, won't have to serve the four-year sentence handed to him by Judge Duncan Wheale.
Wheale hit Stulb with the prison sentence in December after first giving the young man a one-year stint in a detention center followed by nine years' probation.
But Wheale had second thoughts immediately after - no doubt jolted by the smirk on Stulb's face when Wheale pronounced what he admitted was a "light sentence" - and the next day filed the paperwork to "remold" the punishment.
The appeals court said the ensuing hearing didn't come quick enough, however; it seems that before the hearing could be held, Stulb had already begun serving the first sentence and thus couldn't be re-sentenced.
Stulb began serving that sentence when he started paying his fines the day after the hearing to remold the sentence was set - and the timing was no coincidence, District Attorney Danny Craig believes.
Craig thinks Stulb, availing himself of good legal advice, quickly paid a $225 installment on his $10,000 fine to "subvert the authority of the court." If so, it worked - and Stulb will now return to serving his original sentence, which will let him out at the end of this year but keep him on probation for the next nine.
This ought to be the end of it, but it probably won't be. We heard from a lot of Stulb's friends after this drama last December, many of them falsely asserting that my public whipping of Wheale for his leniency led to the remold hearing. In fact, Wheale announced his intent to redo the sentence more than a day before my comments were published.
Since then, Stulb's defenders have hailed his jailhouse redemption and praised his Bible reading. I just hope they put as much energy into helping him continue that redemption after his release as they did in criticizing anyone who expressed the opinion that an 18-year-old shouldn't have sex with a 14-year-old.
If they don't, well, those nine years of probation will at least put Stulb on a pretty short leash.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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