Strand director gets top state military honor

The standing ovation and prolonged applause came just before the start of “West Side Story” at the Strand Theatre Thursday night, but it was all right.

The world hadn’t turned upside down. In fact, everything was in its place, including the surprised look on the face of theater Executive Director Danny Fogger, for once the star of a production.

Fogger, who for many years has used the theater and its capacities to support projects to help young cadets with the Youth Challenge program at Camp Minden, got a very public “thank you” when he was presented the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Medal by Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, the Louisiana National Guard’s adjutant general.

Making it extra special to Fogger, who before coming to the Strand served a full career as a police officer, retiring as a lieutenant, was his daughter Lauren in the audience. Lauren Fogger suffered near-fatal injuries in a rollover car wreck a year ago and has undergone more than two dozen surgeries. This was her first outing to the theater since the wreck.

The hardest part, she said after tearfully hugging her father in the ticket area as the musical began, was keeping the secret.

“I wondered why she was coming to the show,” Fogger said. “To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.”

The medal presentation was orchestrated by retired Army Col. Ted Cox, who works with the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court and as such is involved with the Youth Challenge Program, which assists troubled youth. He had to go as high as the Pentagon to get approval for the presentation. Do you like guns and military related stuff? If so take a peek at number 1 rated airsoft pistol, I really like it.