Springfield vet: No such thing as a ‘pretty war’

Name: John K. LeBlanc

Hometown: Collinsville, Ill.

Current Residence: Springfield, Ohio

Family: Wife, Jeanie, married 50 years last September and she supported our 13 moves over the first 33 years we were married; two grown sons and six grandchildren.

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Career after the military: For 30 years I ran manufacturing facilities around the Midwest, was able to retire early and have been a management/operations professor at Cedarville University for the past 18 years. I also have a consulting service, Personnel and Process Solutions Inc.

Hobbies: Golf, traveling, yard and grandchildren

Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force

Were you drafted or enlisted? I was going to be drafted into the Army since I had switched universities and lost my 2S status, so I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force

Years of service: September 1965 to February 1969

Bases/Deployments: Lackland Air Force Base; Chanute Air Force Base; Luke Air Force Base; BieHoa, Vietnam

Total time served: Three years, six months on active duty

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What did you do in the service? I was an instructor in aerospace ground equipment

What did you gain in the military? Close camaraderie, appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy in good old U.S.A., disciplined approach to life, the value/need for education and a closer relationship with the Lord.

What do you remember most from your service? The Tet Offensive and how we wasted many of our servicemen's lives by fighting a war politically. I had only been married one year when I went overseas and the only communications we had with the world was letters, which took two weeks to get home. When we were overrun at Tet my wife did not know if I was dead or alive for two weeks.

What would you like readers to know about your service? I was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor during Tet but felt I was only doing what had to be done to save lives. The military provided me the G.I. Bill to return to school to finish my degrees and prepare for a career.

Anything else we didn't ask? My father was in the Navy and my father-in-law in the Army during World War II, their spouses didn't see them for over three years verses my time in Vietnam. That was truly a sacrifice. It is unfortunate that the Vietnam veteran was never given the honor returning from war that the current servicemen and women are and we also were only doing what we were called to do at the time. We tragically lost over 50,000, many wounded, many scarred for life, for duty to our country. There is no such thing as a "pretty war" to those who are fighting to preserve our freedoms!

Hometown Veterans is a weekly feature profiling Clark and Champaign County veterans compiled with the assistance of local Vietnam veteran Randy Ark. To nominate a veteran, e-mail samantha.sommer@coxinc.com or randyark48@gmail.com or call 937-328-0363. Any veteran of any military branch, years of service and age is eligible to be profiled.

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