DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) Marine veteran Leon Gezella joined the military in 1968, assigned as a machine gunner.
“I was with the 9th Marines third division, Gulf Company 29,” he said.
Leon would be sent to Vietnam for six months after his basic training.
“Being over there is something I don’t want to talk about,” he said. “It was hard.”
His time with the Marines would only last two years after coming down with malaria.
His focus then went towards helping his fellow veterans. He’s now a member of four different organizations, and a member of the Honor Guard for each one.
“I started out as being a volunteer driver with the DAV to take veterans to clinics, mostly to Iron Mountain,” he said. “I enjoyed just being with those people. I learned a lot.”
Along with the DAV, he’s a member of the VFW, the VVA and the Marine Corps League. He enjoys how each group gives back to others less fortunate.
“I don’t do a lot with each one, but I help whenever I can to help raise money for all different things that we do,” he said. “We don’t realize how many people out there are homeless, people who need help, who are really down and out. This way we can help them out as much as we can.”
Being a part of the Honor Guard for each group, he says our veterans being honored deserve the recognition.
“I would say I do probably 150 [funerals] a year,” he said. “I do the rifle squad, I can also do the bugle. We also do the flag folding at funerals if needed. After you do an Honor Guard and people come up and shake your hand and say how thankful they are, it just makes me feel great – it makes everyone feel great. We’re all just happy to be there. They see us and say ‘thank you,’ and that thank you means a lot.”
Nominate your Hometown Heroes to email@example.com