- Kent Casson
Vietnam vet shares story of courage
A story of courage from the Vietnam War was shared with those attending Monday’s Memorial Day service at Chenoa Cemetery.
Army veteran Dick Leonard of Cornell experienced the loss of his friend, Robert Smith, who also served in the Army. Smith came to the outfit to be a gunner but was not sure of all his duties.
“It was my job to train him while he was there,” Leonard recalled. “He learned well, he learned quick.”
One day, Leonard exchanged places with Smith since Smith wanted to fly a newer helicopter, as Leonard had already been in Vietnam for some time.
“As we flew off together, his lead (helicopter) went around the back side of a firing area. We didn’t know of a problem but they disappeared, we heard a mayday and they got shot down.”
When Leonard arrived, the helicopter was on the ground. Smith lost his life and it was a tough moment for Leonard.
Leonard thanked all of the veterans who came out to Chenoa Cemetery to help with the program. He said the day provides everyone a chance to take a few minutes to remember.
“This is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever seen – to me, this is Memorial Day,” added Leonard.
It was 55 years ago when Uncle Same gave Leonard the call to serve. After signing-up, he went through special training. He said he supported his country no matter the situation, something that he found important.
He encouraged the audience to always make sure to thank to veteran for their service when seeing them and to stay positive about life.
“Make sure you tell somebody each day you care about them,” Leonard said.