9-year-old honors veteran at Leesville funeral

LEESVILLE, La. (KALB) - Nine-year-old Dalton Tibbitts attended the funeral of Navy Vietnam veteran Paul Jones on Thursday at the Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery.

Image Credit: KALB

Vernon Parish is known for honoring veterans like their own family and the Evans 4th grader attends as many services as possible.

“When they salute, that's my favorite thing to do,” Dalton said. “I feel happy that I’m honoring veterans, army men and women. My father's doing it so I feel like I want to do this too.”

It all started in the summer of 2016 with the death of Big Mike Allen, a beloved community figure. Tibbitts wanted to stand next to his good buddy’s casket. Dad William Tibbitts, a 19 year Leesville firefighter said his son, about 7 years old at the time, became an honorary member of the Vernon Parish Fire District Honor Guard after asking to join.

“It fills my heart with, I can't even explain it, just a lot of emotions,” Tibbitts said. “I followed in my father’s footsteps, he served for 28 years with the fire department. There is still goodness in the younger generation and it's all about how they're raised.”

With a custom uniform made by mom, Tibbets has been honoring local heroes ever since, including his own grandpa Tibbets last year.

Leesville Fire Chief Kyle Bush has watched Dalton’s dad grow up, and he's overjoyed to see the family’s legacy continue with Tibbets’ son.

“Both grandpas were firefighters and now his daddy is there with us and then he's following right in his footsteps it’s great, I think it's a beautiful thing,” Bush said. “My heart just wants to bust. I’m very proud.”

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