Mr. Behre Daniel Behre a New Orleans native, headed Pelican Ice & Cold Storage Inc., for 42 years until his death on Christmas Eve in 1993. Pelican Ice & Cold Storage, Inc., was founded by his grandfather, Charles Henry Behre Sr., at the turn of the century.
Mr. Behre was a tail gunner during World War II. His war experiences were quite adventurous. However, on his 26th mission over Germany in 1944, his plane took a furious shower of flak and wound up so full of holes that there was no option but to jump. Behre rather enjoyed the ride down, tethered to a parachute, floating ethereally through the air on a sunny morning. Ten seconds later, he heard the plane blow up over his head.
He landed in Austria and within hours was captured as a prisoner of war. For the next eight months, he did a grueling stint in Stalag Luft No. 4 and then went on a forced march from one end of Germany to the other; 750 miles in 70 days in the bitter cold, with almost no food or drink.
Behre survived the march, came home to New Orleans, and hired a secretary to dictate a 30 page memoir of his experiences. Then he went to work in the family business.
It was Daniel Behre that engineered the import of tons of block ice to protect New Orleans’ endangered food supply after Hurricane Betsy ravaged the city in 1965.
When Hurricane Betsy struck, leaving the city without electricity for refrigeration, Pelican, with its diesel-powered compressors, was one of the city’s few sources of ice. At first, however demand far outstripped supply, until Mr. Behre brought in tons of ice from areas unaffected by the storm.