The Viet Nam War was a long, brutal war fought against an elusive and cruel enemy in the steamy jungles and stagnant rice paddies of an impoverished nation located on the other side of the planet. For two years of his life, local Campbellton native Leroy Boone was immersed in that horror.
At the home of C.B. Boone and his wife Alia, located just outside of Campbellton, one morning in 1946 Leroy Boone entered the world. He attended St. Paul School in Campbellton all twelve years, and graduated in the class of 1964.After high school Leroy attended Chipola College, also working as a student-bus driver for Chipola's bus system to help pay for his education. Meanwhile, the Viet Nam War was building up, and Leroy could see a draft notice in his future. Thus, in 1967 he enlisted in the U. S. Army.
He was soon off to Montgomery for induction, and then moved to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic infantry training. After basic he reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he entered an armored unit and began training in operating an armored patrol vehicle with an “intelligence specialist” MOS. These armor plated vehicles carried two 16 mm machine guns, and were used throughout the combat areas to provide security for other units involved in mine sweeping, road and bridge construction, security patrols, and to engage in reconnaissance.
When the Fort Knox training was completed, Leroy was given a month's leave at home. That month passed quickly, and he was soon boarding an aircraft in Dothan to arrive in Bien Hoa, home of the 12th CAV Division. Leroy's first experience in Viet Nam was not pleasant. When the airplane began to attempt to land it encountered heavy fog conditions, turbulence, and had to repeatedly perform missed approach maneuvers. “I thought for sure I was going to get killed in an airplane crash before I ever had a chance to fight in the war,” Leroy stated.
Leroy was quickly processed and assigned to Headquarters Troop as part of an armored unit in 3rd of the 5th CAV, 9th Infantry Division. His unit began working on special assignments throughout the combat areas. “I always felt much safer tucked away inside of our armored vehicle and felt sorry for those soldiers who were scampering around our vehicle on foot. I saw many of them mowed down from enemy fire while I fired my 16 mm machine gun trying to offer them some protective cover,” Leroy stated. “In one fight we were ambushed and lost 120 of our men and had 300 injured. It was very disturbing to see so many American soldiers laying around dead or suffering from wounds.”
Leroy suffered wounds himself from hot shrapnel hitting him as explosions took place nearby. One injury occurred when he was working with a minesweeping team and his armored vehicle hit a mine. A second event during the massive TET Offensive resulted in more serious injuries when his unit was ambushed by a large number of Viet Cong. When his tour of duty was nearing completion, Leroy was still located at a rehabilitation center in Qui Nhon. In July 1968 he left Nam and finally received his honorable discharge at Fort Carson, Colorado. He returned to Jackson County with his body permanently scarred with over 15 shrapnel wounds, and the breast of his uniform covered with medals. He had earned two purple hearts, the Army Commendation Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Viet Nam Commendation Metal with 60 devices, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the National Defense Service Medal.
After returning home in 1968, Leroy went to work at Dozier School for Boys, where he was employed until 1973. 1972 was a meaningful year for Leroy. It was at this time he fell into love with Edith Lewis , a Malone girl, and was married. They raised two children, a boy and a girl, and are now enjoying four grandchildren. While working at Dozier, Leroy continued to attend Chipola College, working to become certified as a law enforcement officer. He took courses at Chipola during this time that were being taught by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Roy Hutto. After completion of all requirements he became a deputy for Jackson County Sheriiff’s Office, working for Sheriffs Ronnie Craven and Charles Applewhite. He was a deputy for six years, and then went to work as an agent for Met Life Insurance for two years.
At this time he found his intended career, as he joined the family at Rahal Miller in Marianna. He has worked as one of their leading sales personnel for 35 years. Leroy has led a rich, full life. We all respect and thank him for his outstanding service to the nation, as well as his demonstrated example of a loving father, devoted husband, outstanding citizen and great employee.
The Owners and the Staff of the Jackson County TIMES sends a hearty WELL DONE to a fine Jackson County native!!
When I think of Leroy Boone as my friend think of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.l: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. I’ve never seen Leroy on any side but the side of what’s right and good for everyone. Leroy loves his God, Family and this Great Nation and we love Leroy here at Rahal-Miller.
When we close every commercial I think of men and women in uniform like Leroy. “Thank you and may God Bless this one nation under God.