Louisiana lawyer honors Mississippi war hero with new book

By Michelle de Leon | Jan 8, 2017

LAFAYETTE — A Louisiana attorney has penned the first-ever biography of a Mississippi native who took on major roles in shaping the outcome of both World War I and II.

Steve Rabalais, a native of Morgan City, Louisiana, who now works as a lawyer in Lafayette, according to KALB-TV, wrote a book titled “General Fox Conner: Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor.” His work was published by Casemate Publishers, a publication that dedicates itself to military history, in October 2016.

According to Rabalais, he was inspired to write the book following his discovery that information on Conner remains limited despite the latter’s tremendous contributions in history. The Louisiana lawyer shared that the works of the Conner during the major wars paved the way for a number of critical and life-changing events in history.

With this in mind, Rabalais seeks to educate the public of the late hero’s accomplishments and how these led to the victories of the more celebrated individuals in the past.

“I looked around to get a Fox Conner book. There was no Fox Conner book at that time. I thought, ‘Well, you know, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing. Here’s a subject that warrants a book.’ So I decided to give it a try,” Rabalais said of his inspiration for the book, according to the Daily Review.

Records show that Conner, who died in 1951, served as Pershing’s chief of operations during World War I. According to an online article by Russ Stayanoff on Conner referenced in the Daily Review article, Conner also was part of a group of colleagues that included Eisenhower, who went on to head up the Allied forces in Europe during World War II.

“This is a story about a man who was fundamentally a teacher. That guy imparted upon a young, struggling Eisenhower traits and skills and methods that served him well for decades and decades and decades,” Rabalais said of Conner, according to The Advocate.

Stayanoff's articles is titled “General Fox Conner: Soldier, Mentor, Enigma: Operations Chief (G-3) of the AEF.”

Despite his crucial role in history, Rabalais disclosed that Conner preferred working in the background. However, his accomplishments had been highlighted by others at the time — a fact that further encouraged the Louisiana attorney to dig deeper on the background of his subject. In his research, Rabalais also discovered how the late hero served as the driving force of the military by providing the analysis and information to help Pershing with his decisions.

For his part, Rabalais shared that the project thrilled him from beginning to end. The son of a history teacher, the Louisiana lawyer’s interest was piqued upon his discovery of Conner’s role in the major wars. He described his experience as “fun,” sharing that it presented a stark contrast from his life as a lawyer.

“I’ve been practicing law for 30-something years now. You can imagine how a lawyer’s brain processes things into words,” Rabalais said in The Advocate. “It’s really kind of fun. It’s kind of like learning to bat from a different side of the plate as far as processing of data and putting it forth in written format.”

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