By Maya Jung
Over 79 years have not diminished the imposing military bearing and command presence of Colonel John Leach, United States Army (ret.). He looks ready for service and would still command the respect and loyalty to follow into harm’s way.
A Hall of Fame football player at Westerly High School and the University of Rhode Island, John went forth to serve his nation in 1957 – he was decorated with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Soldier Medal.
His Army career saw two tours in Vietnam as an Airborne Army Ranger – the first tour as a field commander, the second as an inserted combat advisor to Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He was stationed in Germany and South Korea. Many of his missions, operations and career achievements were covert – the results are obvious to this day. Suffice it to say Colonel Leach took a hammer to the Berlin Wall and sent an everlasting message to those who dared to invade the demilitarized zone in Korea.
The Colonel was one of the select few Army officers to attend the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The college is the “Home of Thought” for senior military leaders. Upon graduation, Colonel Leach was assigned as an instructor at the college. The Colonel’s assignment there saw him pioneer the use of satellite and computer technology to enhance the effectiveness of soldiers in the field.
Retirement has seen the Colonel, wife Carol and daughter Patty return to establish a final base camp in his native Westerly, RI. The former Bulldog legend takes great joy in mentoring and cheering on the youth of his birthplace. His role modeling inspires new generations.
The Colonel offered this on the importance of Memorial Day – “I wear my Viet Vets Cap only on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. All of the year I seek to honor those in American history who made the ultimate sacrifice that our freedoms and rights would be preserved and flourish – Memorial Day is a yearly event honoring of the timeless sacrifice that our military made and continues to make, that we might live in freedom.”
A hero of few words whose life’s actions speak volumes – American Hero Colonel John Leach at Memorial Day.