PVT. RICHARD LEE LESLIE
Pvt. Richard Leslie
Copyright 2017 by Roger Storkamp
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without written permission of the author.
Books and Birch, Publisher
3016 Haddon Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89135
Dedicated to the 503rd
Airborne Combat Regiment
“General Douglas McArthur’s secret weapon”
Last Men Standing
Friendships of the 503rd Airborne Combat Regiment billowed and blossomed like the parachutes that landed them on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific sixty five years ago. A few men short of a platoon gathered in Arizona, where they, as did the mythical bird of Phoenix, rose from near ashes to restore their comrades’ achievements lost to the dusty pages of history.
While my father-in-law, Richard Leslie, registered us at Grace Inn, Laurie and I gazed at the wall-to-ceiling poster proclaiming that General Jones and his 3000 thieves had landed. Her father’s stories about the antics of the 503rd regiment had been confirmed, and I eagerly awaited meeting his octogenarian buddies.
Although war stories were available on demand, most conversations dealt with the bonding of the men, their wives, and families, and, of course, honoring fellow members who have mustered out since last year’s meeting.
The five day conference mostly centered around hospitality and sight-seeing in the Phoenix area, culminating with business meetings and banquets. In addition to tweaking the nuts-and-bolts of the organization, the members endorsed an official web site, www.Corregidor.org. Their web master, Paul Whitman organized eyewitness accounts and pictures, official from government photographers and candid like those Chester Nycum confiscated from Japanese cameras. They give a face to the heroism as well as the human toll on the rock remembered as Corregidor.
Like the call of the Alamo, the theme of the meeting was Remember us who took Corregidor. The 503rd, cobbled together from remnants of the 502nd and ultimately sandwiched into the 101st, suffers from the middle child syndrome. The association sadly endorsed a last-man-standing bases for termination of the 503rd as an active Association, relegated to the history books and web sites.
In the course of five short days, Laurie and I gained insights into the horror of war, its affect on the men who fought and the human bonding that resulted. We have a deeper understanding and respect for torment that plagued her father most of his life. Our greatest generation must not be forgotten.
“Sir, I present you Fortress Corregidor.”
Col. Jones to General McArthur, March 2, 1945
A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR
My father-in-law, Richard Leslie, served in the Army Airborne under General Douglas MacArthur throughout the Philippine Islands Campaign during WWII. He made three combat jumps, most notably to retake the island of Corregidor from the Japanese. Enlisting at age seventeen, Richard’s education had been interrupted until age 59 when he earned his GED, an achievement he considered only second to his military honors.
His story offers an honest view of courage, fear, and self preservation strategies. Atrocities committed on both sides created an emotional toll that plagued him throughout his eighteen months of combat and continued to haunt him throughout his life.
He asked that publication of PVT. RICHARD LESLIE be withheld until his ashes “dusted the breeze.”
He passed away on Good Friday, 2013.