I was just 12 when my brother, Frank Leuck, went off to war. Looking back I realize now that I didn’t understand even a part of what he was to face. In fact, even when he came back and he shared what he would or could with us, it was all just wild adventures that made him seem all the more bigger than real life to me. Now I know far better. My brother, Frank P Leuck, is a retired full colonel from the United States Air Force. he enlisted in 1959 before I was not quite 2 years old. After boot camp he was nearly immediately offered an opportunity to go to Officer Candidate School. Graduating from that he quickly rose through the ranks until he retired a full colonel after about 23 years of dedicated service.
Though trained as a fighter pilot his service in the Viet Nam war came as a forward air control officer with a unit knows as the “Pretzel People”. If you’d like to know what he flew, take a ride to the Eugene Air Museum and look at the Cessna O2 they have on display there. You can actually sit it in. You’ll quickly realize that this low flying plane had NO protection of any kind for the pilot. In charge of aerial surveillance and marking bomb targets with phosphorescent markers, he often flew at no more than tree top level to spot the enemy. I know that he was shot out of the sky once but walked away after a hard landing only to find himself smack dab in the middle of an enemy offensive. He was forced to crawl his way through enemy lines to get back to the air base. I cannot imagine the terror of the moments he must have had then. Like a game of tackle tag with death as the penalty for getting tagged. At least two more times after that he his plane was so badly damaged by ground fire that once landed, the plane was no longer serviceable.
Since then my nephew, Joshua Leuck, has served two tours of duty in the past 10 years. One in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. And now my grandnephew, Trent Mortensen, is currently serving in Afghanistan. In addition to this my late brother-in-law, Ron Amundson, served gallantly towards the end of World War II and in fact died 40 years after that war as a direct result of the injuries he suffered in the Pacific Theater.
To Frank, Ron, Josh, Trent and all the others who have served, are serving and especially those who have given up their health or life so that we can remain a free and independent people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and pray for your well being every day.
There are others too though who serve in different ways. My father, unable to serve the country due to a poorly reset hip displacement, instead served in the civilian construction corp working in Alaska during World War II and in Pearl Harbor after that war. Our electrician, Jared Mart, is currently in Afghanistan taking care of the electrical needs of our servicemen and women there.
We owe these men and women a great debt and our undying gratitude. Be sure to thank the veterans around you. I know that they appreciate it every time you recognize their sacrifices.