A Long Road but Worth it!

“News from the Hut”
for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham

Usually, my focus on some of our members are relatively short. The reason is that most served one tour of duty or maybe two. This week will be a long one due to a lasting career, by a person who continues in service today to the community. Our Post Commander, Charles “Doc” O’Leary, was born October 1947. He attended Basic Training in the U.S. Army at Fort Polk, LA…home of “Tiger Land” in 1967. But, instead of getting sent there, he was sent to Ft. Dix, NJ in the winter time, and issued a M-14 rifle for jungle training in preparation for Vietnam, where they were using M-16 rifles [Army intelligence?].

There, he took Infantry AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in the snow and was sent to Ft. Benning, GA for US Army Airborne Jump School, and got his paratrooper wings. He had signed up for Special Forces [Green Beret] training and opted for SF Medic training, which was 48 weeks long at Ft. Bragg, NC and attending graduate level courses at the Army Medical Training Center at Ft. Sam Houston, TX; while spending twelve weeks training at Ft. Sill’s Reynolds Army Hospital in Lawton, OK [got homesick for Oklahoma and future spouse who was living in Blackwell]. With his Green Beret on, Doc was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group [Airborne] in Okinawa, Japan; working two years at the Headquarters, and brought his wife Nancy over there for one year. He returned to complete his tour of duty as an E-6 pay grade [Staff Sergeant] at the 12th Special Forces Group [Airborne] in Oklahoma City.

After a six-year break (attending Physician Assistant school at OU Medical School in OKC) and moving to Hominy to join Dr. John Hudson in practice here; Doc re-upped as an Army PA with the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade in 1980. PA’s in the Army then were all Warrant Officers, and he attained the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) before converting to Captain in 1993. He spent the majority of his time as a Battalion PA, with the 160th Field Artillery and 179th Infantry, going on six overseas medical training missions to Honduras, Bolivia and Ecuador, before taking command as a Major of Company C [Charlie Med] of the 700 Support Battalion of the 45th Infantry Brigade. He was the only PA in the OKARG to hold company command and led his troops in rigorous training including a JRTC [Joint Readiness Training Center] rotation at Ft. Polk, before the upcoming wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

In 2003, he was activated with the 45th’s 180th Infantry, serving with the Multi National Forces Organization peacekeeping force in the Sinai Peninsula between Egypt and Israel for one year. He was activated again to Afghanistan in 2004, with the 45th’s 279 Infantry serving as a medical trainer with the Afghan Army, and then redeployed again to Afghanistan with the 180th Infantry in 2006-2007; retiring in 2007 at the rank of LTC [Lieutenant Colonel] as he turned age 60. His awards include the Bronze Star, Combat Medic Badge, Jump Wings, Special Forces tab and numerous others.

“I entered the Army in 1967 as a Private E-1 enlisted soldier advancing to E-4 Specialist, was an NCO E-5 and E-6 Staff Sergeant, an Army Warrant Officer [WO1-CW3] and an officer [O3-O5] and retired as a LTC in 2007. In 40 years I was never a Lieutenant”, said O’Leary, smiling!

Doc continues his service today working in care of the areas sick and hurting at the Hominy Family Health Center, and keeping our active American Legion Post 142 humming. At the Post, he continues to care with advice to our veteran’s regarding staying healthy and seeking assistance. Now and then, I seek him out for advice as well but more on life strategies and plain good common sense. Add to all this, the gracious and giving heart of his beautiful wife Nancy, and you have the whole package. They are a treasure of Hominy.

While patting folks on the back, let we also give a big salute to Babo Carter and the whole crew, for distributing flags and then taking them down. I heard a few seniors discussing how nice the flags were commemorating Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. One of them did not notice them, but after the discussion, I’m sure they really stood out after they left Wild Country!

Don’t forget, our regular meetings continue the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:00 PM (June 4th and 18th). Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in May are still planned (if weather permits) and running starting around 0700 till about 0900. As always much thanks to the crew for providing biscuits and gravy and maybe a waffle or two and always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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