Chuck Olmstead interviews Patriot’s Landing resident Leonard LeDuc, a U.S. Army veteran. He grew up in a farm town in Kansas. He worked on the assembly of missile silos. His older brother was doing well in the service, so he joined the Army in 1962.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
This special answers for elders podcast honoring military veterans is sponsored by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is see AAR EA gecom. This is Chuck Holmstead. I’m out here at Patriots landing in Dupont, Washington, and our veterans interview today is with Leonard Leduke. He is retired US army. Leonard, welcome to answers for elders. Thank you very much. It’s privileged to be here. Well, it’s good to meet you and you and I have just been chatting a little bit before we recorded, but I always like to ask my questions fresh because it’s always interesting for me to discover the stories of our veterans and kind of like what their life was like before and after the service. So you and I were chatting about the Midwest, but I didn’t really find out exactly where you grew up. I grew up in Kansas on a kind of a little farm town. My Mother didn’t like to live on the farm and my dad didn’t like to live in the city, so this little town we moved into and then he had land right next to the town and it seemed to work pretty good. Well, Kansas in the summertime. You and I were talking about Midwest weather. That’s just plain hot in the summer, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s about a hundred and twelves what I used to get and but it’s all wheat country. I mean it’s and what I like about Kansas is a it’s like a giant checkerboard. You know. You’d drive one mile and then you it at the end of the sex and you got three ways to go. So that’s right. So did your did Your Dad did? He grow wheats out there, wheat and corn, and we had pigs and so on and so forth, and it was it was pretty interesting. Yeah, well, what was what was Kansas like growing up as a young boy? Oh, it was great. I mean people used to they never locked our doors and then ere they left their keys in the car and so on and so forth. And we come back from we had a the county seat was about fifteen miles away and that’s where we done most of our shopping. And one time we came back, I remember, and I had a fit. Well, we had a big farm drug and it was gone and my dad said, I don’t don’t worry about it, it’ll come back in a couple of days. Somebody had to borrow it. Huh? Yeah, yeah, it was. It was fun. Well, when when people don’t know about Kansas, when they think about Kansas, they always think of the wizard of Oz and tornadoes. Were there a lot of tornadoes when you were growing up? Not Too many, not where I live. I lived about, MMM, fifteen miles from Nebraska boarder, right in the center can just so it’s it wasn’t just we had bad with everyone. Didn’t have any. Didn’t have a lot of tornadoes. Yeah, well, that can always be even growing up in the Midwest. I remember a few times of tornadoes coming very close to our house and and that’s always a frightening experience when you’ve got you know, those tornadoes coming through. So tell me about after you were out of high school and thinking about the service. What’s a what what happened with you? I got out of high school and I went to work on a murmur in the missile bases. They put in the silos, as I do. Okay, we put some in Kansas and some in Nebraska and some in Colorado and quit the head jol it was. It was pretty rough. It was seven fourteens. HMM, so you didn’t have much time. You made a lot of money which you didn’t have no time spended. So you were helping to construct those yes, wow, I can’t imagine the amount of cements and infrastructure that goes into those silos. Quite a bit. I mean they poured it first wall and they get it all set and everything. Then they pour second wall and they call that Slip Wall and when the rocket goes out of their destroys just slip wall. But you still got the basic wall and they can repour and put another midical in there. I see. Yeah, in fact, my son lived and spoken a few years ago and you’re where he lived. There was an abandoned site and I actually went down into that site and look back through the kind of the control area where the blast where the operators would set, you know, and be safe from the blast coming out of that rocket. You know, engines and that sort of thing. Fortunately, those things never had to get fired and they’ll tell you then been been the end if they’d had to fire. Am Yeah, yeah, so how many? How long? How many months are? How long did you have world? Couple years and then I went to work on a pipeline and I’m made really good money in there. MMM, and then is quick. I got they are urged. My brother was in the my older brother was in the service and he was doing quite well and I thought, well, I’ll take a crack at it and yeah, I could. So, yeah, so your brother was in the army as well. Yeah, yeah, so what year did you decide to join? Sixty two, one thousand nine hundred and sixty two. Yeah, so obviously the the Korean War was over by several years. The Vietnam War was not really cranking up yet, I mean the way all the French were there and a few us, but not not a lot of us at the time. Well, that it was quite a war. I spent some time when we’re there and I I wasn’t much of a politician. So you know, that was LBJ’s war. UHHUH, wasn’t ours? Yeah, yeah, terrible him at Makamer that. Well, I think the history has kind of proved what what really went on at that war and the decisions that were made. You know, that’s you know, it’s really interesting to know that in over Fiftyzero of our of our men and women didn’t come back from that war. I was just reading today that one thousand nine hundred and eighteen the great war, of course, World War One, the Great War. Right on September twenty six was the large the beginning of the largest battle in US history as far as the number of of men and that forty six day battle hole the US lost twenty six thousand soldiers. Yeah, and that was the the largest battle on record of the number of losses. We don’t we don’t comprehend that anymore. We hear about in Afghanistan one or two or at maybe ten soldiers getting killed and it’s devastating. But when you think about some of these battles, it was amazing, wasn’t it? Well, they think of it is. The equipment today have now is far superior to what we had. I mean it was I’ve seen a helicopter knocked down with a stick. I mean, HMM, you know. So. Yeah. So, how many years in Vietnam? Tours? One tour, but it was a long tour. Uh Huh. Yeah, sixty eight and sixty nine. Interesting. Yeah, and that was a tough, tough time and in Vietnam at that time. Yeah. So what was your duty assignment? We I was in a nineteen FNTRY division. HMM, good, good division, and my first job was helicopter recovery, recovery, yeah, HMM. And in later on I got tied in with the Navy and we was down in south part of yet, down in the delta, and it was kind of interesting. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it was. So after Vietnam, what’s what did you do after Vietnam? I come back and, well, I don’t think we’re getting ahead of ourself. When I first came in I went to tank school and I become a tanker interested and I got sent to Korea as a tanker and I spent thirteen months in Korea and then I came out and I got sent to a top secret post in Europe and I told him, I said, what are you going to do with a tanker? Well, we’re going to make you an MP. So I was an MP for three and a half years in Europe. In Europe, it’s it’s not what you think. MP’s are divided into two categories and they have the role weaving MP’s and then they have the stationary mpeace which guard the prisons and so forth, and that’s what we came under. I see. Yeah, it was different. Yeah, so so you you did you serve in Europe then before you went to Vietnam? Yes, yes, I see. Yeah, so then then you got the call to to go to Vietnam, right. Yeah. So, as we’ve had opportunities to talk with other veterans that served during that time, it was it’s really interesting to hear and to understand what was going on with the service members, especially on the racial part, because the same things that were happening in stateside, in the US with in a racial area was happening in the service to. Wasn’t that? Especially in Germany? And Yeah, Germany was bad, Uh Huh, really bad. Yeah, and there were several people that we’ve had the opportunity to talk to that, you know, help, you know, really worked hard to try to help with African Americans who were dealing with some of those struggles that we’re going through in the service. As far as even you know, how to navigate in the service. Well, it was very difficult and ye had a hard time and the army had the right idea, but they didn’t perfect it. HMM, and this is my opinion. Huh, and I think today they really made an air fort, but they just kind of seemed to be out of beat or went to wrong channel or something. It’s you have to get somebody with a higher pay grade. N I understand that. As far as it troops go, that a lot of they didn’t care, you know, one way or the other when he was black, green or yellow. You know, y’all bled Red Blood, UH HUH? So, yeah, yeah, it’s that’s a thing. It you have to have to think about. Sure. So, Germany, Europe, and then Vietnam. And what happens after Vietnam? And I come back and some general officer thought I was good soldier, so they sent me a special school to be an enlisted aid. So and but that was very hard on my family and it was seven you know, if the general had to go someplace or wanted to entertain somebody or something, that you had really put in the hours. Sure, it was a good job, I mean you meant a lot of interesting people, but it was tough. It’s so where you stay side at that time? No, I was in your and then I came back to the states and that’s when they sent me to school and I was in Leavenworth, Kansas. At they wore at the college. They were Officers College are interesting. So back to Kansas again? Yeah, back to back to the wait state. I imagine that was a transit, interesting transition coming back to Kansas. Yeah, it wasn’t. Well, I could drive home and see my dad. Uh Huh, it was. It was pretty nice. Yeah, I didn’t. Yeah. So so what year? What year did you go into the army? In? Sixty two, and then you got out of the army. What year? Eighty three, one thousand nine hundred and eighty three. Yeah, so twenty one years. Well worked out. I get paid for twenty two. So any well, that that’s even better. Yeah, but so what happens after the army? You didn’t you didn’t want to stay in any longer. You were pretty much done. It was kind of fit up because that time, at that time the army was having problems and yeah, big bro well, yeah, Ron Problems, so on and so forth, and used to be, you know, sergeants kind of run the army, but then it changed and you had to train a lot of young officers and it was it was kind of like being on a banana appeal and in a nice drink. So it was it was pretty tough fire for a while. Yeah, so what do you when you made the decision you were going to retire from the army, what did you do? What did you do? Well, a friend of mine was hound on post and he’s seen that I retired and he said how would you like to work for the governor? And I said doing wood. He said same thing he did when you use in enlisted eight. I said, you know, I give it a world and I went down her had two interviews in the same day and they took me up third interviews Mrs Spellman, and it was kind of kind of a freaky thing. They had a dog that was pretty grumpy and that dog came over and jumped up setting my lap. She said your heart really, you had the approval of the Canine before I did anybody else. Interesting, and that now governor for which state are right here, for in Washington? Writing is capital now. Okay, interesting. So obviously then you must have been serving at a Louis Fort Louis at the time. Yeah, when you when you retired, when I retire, interesting and so so so as I didn’t grow up in Washington state. So it’s what was the who was the governor at that time? SPELLMAN spellman. Yeah, okay, what year with it. That been then? Well, let me see, you said eight, two hundred and eighty and night. Yeah, two hundred and eighty three right in. Huh. Interesting. And then he got voted out and I can’t take from his name now. Came in warehouse or steps in. Uh Huh. And he was. He was tremendous person. I would really liked him. You just had a good sense of humor. Uh Huh. So did you stay on then with that, governor? No, no, I’m went down to the shops. I want to lifelong. I wanted to be electrician. Okay. So then I worked here for a while. I was a night to study and supervisor and then I went down. I finally got an opening, you know, went down to the shops. Uh Huh, and I was a probably the oldest supprentice in the state. Uh Huh. But it worked out. Yeah, yeah, at a good time. Well, that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. You know, going back and doing some some physical labor and some and obviously, as an electrician you got to have a few brains when you’re dealing with to twenty and undred and forty. Yeah, HAH, or else you’re not going to be electrician for long if you don’t know how to deal with this is that’s very true. And four hundred and forty. It’s pretty bad stuff. Yeah. So then when you say go to the shops, was that with the state? Where you working with the states, so and and so? Was it just like maintenance the shops? When you say the shops, was that like serious or we done a lot of construction to uh Huh. In the offices they have a ground under the ground and then you have these places where you can pull the wires right and you have to beat it open with a hammer and you pull your wires through. HMM, it’s it’s pretty interesting. Yeah. So then you work for the state of Washington. For How long? Then? Twenty one years. Wow. So twenty one’s a kind of a good number for you. Huh, and get twenty one in the army and twenty one with the state. Excellent. So that would have been probably early two thousand or around two thousand three or two thousand and four. That you have two thousand and four, uh Huh. Yeah, so then you’re then you retired. Yeah, that’s well, I found I got it right just first a second time. So yeah, you know, you retired and you get it. Well, I didn’t do it, didn’t retire. Right, right, do it again. And Yeah, yeah, I think the trades are a good, good thing for young people. Think about MMM, very much so. So in your time in the army, letard what what did you feel like you came out with as far as what you learned, as far as your relationship with soldiers and with your fellow comrades? Right, and it had to deal with parents and it was quite interesting. And you train people, but you you know you can’t. The army used to be a dictatorship and that’s what it had to be. But the people that are my age and your age, they don’t like to be bost around all the time. It’s they like to have a little conversation with you and maybe maybe they have a better idea than you do, and you have to bring that, fold all that in and and try and get along with people. Yeah, yeah, very, very good. Yeah. Well, so tell me about your move here to patriots landing. What was your did you when did you patriots landing? Oh, and be four years in November. Uh Huh. And we like and we retired first in Olympia. Uh Huh. And then it didn’t it didn’t go well. Right. Yeah, so we went to to coma and we try to play certain Tacoma and my wife and I said, you know, I’m getting tired of cooking these meals and stuff. That said, I want to retire to my daughter got on her computer and next thing I knew we were moving in. Hahuh, but I think it’s probably been a good move for you. Huh. It was tremendous and and up to this year, in April, the second my wife passed away. I’m sorry. So it’s been hard. Sure, sure, but these people here are very they really look out for you. I mean it’s an expensive place and it cost see a lot of money, but they they take care of you so well that it’s it’s really something else. They bring my medicine to me and the check and see if I’m all right all the time. And because I moved, I move out of our old apartment, which was a two bedroom and I moved into a one and it everybody just a tremendous your. Yeah, yeah, just they make you feel like you’re you’re at home really well, that’s good, you know. And Because, oh, I don’t agree with them all the time. Well, if you wouldn’t be living if you didn’t think, if you agreed all the time. I’m that’s just part of it. But well, it seems like it’s been a it’s when I come and visit here and have a chance to speak with the residents, I always I always get a good, positive response from people. Right. Most of the people that that work here just tremendous. I mean, you know it. Put up with a whole grumps like me. All it’s I don’t know how they keep the smile on her face. Well, I’m glad they do. Well, Leonard, I want to thank you for sharing your story with us today and I want to thank you for your service. You’ve been listening to answers for elders and my guests today is Leonard Leduc and he retired US army and Leonard, I want to thank you for your service and thank you for joining me today. Thank you. This has been a special honoring Veterans Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is cre agecom.
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