Vietnam Vet Guardsman Savors View From Top
(June 13, 2011)
Army Master Sgt. Leland Lesher,
Army National Guard force protection branch
noncommissioned officer in charge and an Illinois
National Guard member, swears the oath of extension
and enlistment at the Army National Guard Readiness
Center in Arlington, Va., June 7, 2011. Lesher is
one of the last active-duty Guard members who has
service time in Vietnam.
ARLINGTON, Va., June 9, 2011 – As one of the last
remaining active-duty National Guard members with
service experience in Vietnam, Army Master Sgt.
Leland Lesher said the most rewarding thing about
his career is the view from the top while at the
Army Guard headquarters.
In a small ceremony
June 7 at the Army National Guard Readiness Center,
Lesher swore the oath of enlistment and extension
for the last time in his military career, which
began more than 40 years ago.
enlistment came in December 1970 with the Marine
Corps. After training, he spent a year in Vietnam.
“After Vietnam, I left the Marine Corps and went
to college,” he said, where he learned about the
Guard and made the switch. “I was a traditional
Guard member, and after I graduated from college, I
spent 22 years as a police officer.”
He originally enlisted with the Illinois National Guard, and
also served as a North Dakota Guard member and as a member
of the Colorado National Guard for a few years, but since
has returned to the Illinois Guard. Over those years, Lesher
has done a lot at home and abroad with the Guard, spending
time in Vietnam and South Korea and providing blizzard,
flood and ice storm assistance in North Dakota.|
his first enlistment into the Guard, Lesher said, he has
seen it go through major changes.
“When I got back
from Vietnam,” he said, “the Guard was full of those who
wanted to continue their military careers, those who wanted
to avoid Vietnam and then those who, like myself, had
decided they were done with regular military and wanted
“Then 9/11 happened,” he continued,
“and it changed the demographics of the Guard from those who
had no or very little combat experience to a force that has
85 percent [of its forces] with combat experience. I've seen
the Guard become very professional over the years.”
Lesher said he was part of some great units early on, and
the camaraderie has kept him in the Guard.
Dakota Guard and Illinois Guard really were some great units
to belong to,” he said, “and they put off any reservations I
had had initially about the Guard when I first joined.”
His final stop in his long Guard career is Stuttgart,
Germany, where he will have an active role in the State
Partnership Program at the U.S. European Command level.
“Part of my position in Germany will be coordinating
with and assisting states that have State Partnership
Programs with the European Union nations that fall under the
European Command,” Lesher said. “It's still at the level of
assisting states, but it's helping them to expand beyond
their state borders.”
After a long military career
that has seen the Guard mature over the years and become an
operational reserve, Lesher said, he looks forward to his
final tour in Germany and having the opportunity to work
within the State Partnership Program.
“As my final
three-year tour, it is just phenomenal,” he said.
Article and by Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau
American Forces Press Service
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