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Bledsoe works hard for veterans

VALLEY — Former Marine Lanny Bledsoe is our Valley Times-News Veteran of the Week. Bledsoe joined the Marines in April 1957 and served through August 1962.

He attended infantry school and officer candidate school in Quantico, Va., and was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville,  N.C. and was later with an elite battalion in Hawaii.

“For a time I was with the First Marine Brigade,” he said. “We were trained to deal with any threat to U.S. interests in the Pacific region.”

“In 1961 we were ready to go to Southeast Asia,” he said. “North Vietnam had invaded Laos, and we were in position to respond to that, but they settled it politically, and we didn’t have to go in.”

For the past 15 years, Bledsoe has served as the commander for American Legion Post 67. He succeeded Roy Hill in that role. For most of those years Bobby Elliott has been his right-hand man as the post adjutant.

Bledsoe said what he’s enjoyed most about his service with the American Legion is the opportunities it has given him to talk to veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“It’s meant a lot to me to have recognized these men at our Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day programs at Veterans Park in Langdale,” he said. “It was also meaningful to me that we were able to get some monuments in the park that list the names of local men who died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars.”

Bledsoe is also pleased that the American Legion has assisted veterans by having a DAV van make weekly trips to the VA Hospital in Tuskegee.

“At one time we had three drivers doing this,” he said. “We could transport local veterans three days a week. The problem we are having now is that we are down to one driver, and we can go only once a week. This is such an important service, and we need people in the community to step up and help us with it.”

Bledsoe said that he would like for younger veterans in the local area to get involved with the American Legion and be advocates for veterans’ issues.

“I’m 81 years old now and Bobby (Elliott) is about the same age. There’s paperwork we have to do to get veterans signed up and involved,” he said. “We know there’s a lot of younger veterans in the local community, and we’d like to get them involved in the Legion.”

Post 67 meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Any local veteran or veteran advocate is welcome to attend. The next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. EST, Tuesday, March 13th at Sunny’s Restaurant, located on Fairfax Bypass in Valley.

“We’d love to have some younger veterans joining us,” Bledsoe said.