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Vets Day: A tribute to service

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POSTED: November 27, 2007 5:00 a.m.
Leroy Strickland, a retired civil service worker, now works part-time as a reference librarian at the Live Oak Public Library. But from 1970 to 1976, Strickland served proudly in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
Strickland sees Veterans Day as a time for “all of America can thank the men and women who have done the hard work, the dirty work, the sometimes deadly work to defend what we believe in as a country and a people.”
Strickland joined the Marines Reserves in 1970 on the “buddy system” with a friend.
He completed basic training in Parris Island, at the Marine Training Deport and served at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla. He was an air intelligence analyst for a fighter jet attack squadron.
Strickland said it is “quite an experience” in the cockpit of a marine fighter jet.
As a Marine Reservist, Strickland did not serve overseas and did not have to deal with the difficulties of being away from family.
But he understands that it is especially a sacrifice for National Guardsman and Reservists when they are deployed overseas to combat.
“Especially since they have a fultime, non-military job and hope their companies will save the job for them until they come back,” Strickland said.
He realizes people do not take into account that Reservists and National Guardsmen are “taking a risk that they could get an injury that will last them the rest of their lives” and greatly affect the career they have outside the military.
“Too often we forget the personal sacrifice,” Strickland said.
Strickland also takes Veterans Day to remember his service.
His Marine Corps days are highlighted by memories of comrades he “has not kept in touch but still remembers.”
During a training event, Strickland collapsed and was thankful to “a friend saved me before I hit the ground.”
A 14-mile force march also comes to mind when Strickland was able to help a fellow Marine in front of him.
Strickland saw how his buddy’s canteen attached to his load bearing equipment harness “rubbing his skin raw.”
Strickland held the canteen for him and they “stayed together” for the rest of the march, “step by step.”
Even now Strickland practices the buddy system and keeps an eye out for soldiers who come in the library.
“(I) will try to assist them any way I can,” Strickland said. “(I) really respect the modern soldier, sailor and Marine.” 
 

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