Leo and I were good friends at the 116th MI Group before he went to Vietnam. We generally told him he was a damn fool to go since he certainly didn't have to. Further, he wanted a combat billet so he was going to volunteer for Airborne and Special Forces. We chided him that he simply wanted a third CIB and that he would probably come home with his toes pointed up.
I left active duty in July 1968 and went to work for Department of the Army more or less "down the hall" from the 116th. One day there was a hubub in the hall and I heard someone calling my name. Leo burst into my office in his Class-A uniform, boots, and, of course, his green beret, with his ribbons running from his right pocket up to his lapel. He said, "See, I'm back and both my feet are flat on the floor." We went over to the Fort McNair Officers Club and had "a few."
He was quite a soldier.
After 33 years in uniform, Leo Meyer enjoyed retirement. He and his wife Vera traveled, purchased their first house and traveled some more, sold a house and became "Snow Birds"; buying two more homes. In support of his art work as a Scrimshander, he set out to go whaling with the whalers of the Azores; onto the ice flows of the Bering Strait with the Yupik walrus hunters of Savoonga, St Lawrence Island, Alaska; and safari in Kenya eastern Africa - always only with a camera.
In 1984 Leo Meyer was one of two hundred and thirty men awarded three Combat Infantryman Badges (CIB), honored by the US Army National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia. A monument at the museum is dedicated to all the men who are recipients of three Combat Infantryman Badges.
Colonel Meyer was inurned at Arlington National Cemetery in May 2006. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife of more than 62 years, two children and two grandchildren.
Colonel Meyer was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, Ft Benning, GA. on March 27, 2009.
But before all that...
In 1935 Leo Meyer joined the New York National Guard Cadet Corps and began attending drill as a drummer in the Regimental Field Music (Band), with the 102nd Engineers in Manhattan and as a mounted trooper with Squadron 'C', 101st Cavalry in Brooklyn. In October 1937 he enlisted into Company "B", 102nd Engineer Regiment, but maintained his status in the NYNG Cadet Corps to continue with the cavalry. By May 1940 he was a corporal with the 102nd Engineers and when called to active duty with the 102nd, he ended his NYNGCC association.
In October 1940 the 102nd Engineer Regiment, 27th Division, New York National Guard, was called to active federal service by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The division moved from New York to Fort McClellan, Alabama for training. Specificly, the 102d Engineer Regiment marched to the train, seven blocks down 34th Street to Pennsylvania Station while the band played Al Jolson hits like Toot Toot Tootsie Good Bye and Alabamy Bound. During the next fourteen months the division participated in maneuver exercises in Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama. Meyer was assigned duties as 'B' Company Clerk (Cpl) and Company Supply Sergeant (Sgt), 1st Battalion and Regimental Message Center Chief (S/Sgt), and Regimental Sergeant Major (M/Sgt).
In November 1941, five weeks after his 24th birthday and two days after becoming the Regiment's Sergeant Major, Meyer reenlisted as a Regular Army Master Sergeant. Twenty-five days later after the 7 December attack on Pearl Harbor the United States declared war on Japan on 8 December 1941. On 9 December Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. On 14 December 1941 the 27th Division was deployed to California and by early March to the Territory of Hawaii in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
From November 1941 to November 1942 Meyer served as 102nd Engineer Regimental Sergeant Major in Alabama and the re-designated 102nd Engineer (Combat) Battalion Sergeant Major in the Pacific Theater of Operations. In March 1943 he graduated from the U.S. Army Air Forces Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida. After commissioning, Lieutenant Meyer was assigned to the 26th College Training Detachment, Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio. In May 1944 Meyer transferred to Childress Army Air Field, Texas. After several months involved with preparing air crewman to fight in the war, Meyer volunteered for the Infantry and was sent to Fort Benning for basic infantry officer training. Later, during a cadre assignment at the 60th Infantry Replacement Training Center (IRTC), Camp Blanding, Florida, he volunteered for another combat zone tour.
Historians have paid little attention to combat near the end of WWII after Leyte, Mindoro, and Luzon. The battle for the island of Mindanao during Operation VICTOR V in the Southern Philippines Campaign was some of the most horrific combat under the most insufferable weather and terrain conditions of the War in the Pacific. In June 1945 1stLt Leo Meyer was serving in Company "A", 34th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division on Mindanao. Meyer earned his first Combat Infantryman Badge, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
In 1946 after serving in occupied Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan, Captain Meyer 'mustered out' of the Army and returned to civilian life. He enlisted in the Organized Reserve Corps and by June 1947 he was back on active duty as a Regular Army master sergeant. While working as an instructor with 1242nd ASU, HQ New York District, Organized Reserve Corps he received his high school GED and applied for the Regular Army Warrant Officer Program and simultaneously, reinstatement of his Army of the United States officer's commission. He received both and put the warrant acceptance in his hip pocket and reinstated as a First Lieutenant.
He was assigned to the HQ 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He served in the 3rd Battalion 7th Infantry in Korea earning his second Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart with Task Force Dog which releaved 1st Battalion 1st Marines to join the fight supporting the retreating 1st Marine Division;s movement back to the beach during the final days of the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.
Post Korea assignments were as an advisor to the Massachusetts National Guard in Quincy, Massachusetts; Sub-area Staff Officer, Western Region, USAREUR in Bad Kreuznach, Germany; Operations Officer at the Army Disciplinary Barracks in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; and Post Operations Staff Officer, Fort Dix, New Jersey.
In 1961 Major Meyer reached 20 years active federal service and mandatory retirement for reserve officers on the active duty list. He was not ready to hang up the uniform and pulled his Regular Army Warrant Officer acceptance letter from his hip pocket and reverted to Chief Warrant Officer 4.
As a Warrant Officer he was assigned as an Intelligence Technician in Military Intelligence, Counter Intelligence Corps. From 1961 to 1968 Meyer served in the 1st US Army Support Group New York City, New York; 108th Intelligence Corps Group Camden, New Jersey; 401st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment Honolulu, Hawaii; and the 116th Military Intelligence Group Washington, D. C. In 1967 he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Military Science from the University of Maryland. In 1968 he volunteered again for service in a combat zone.
In 1968 Chief Warrant Officer 4 Meyer was assigned to Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In his 27th year in the active Army and at age 51, Meyer graduated from the RVN Special Forces parachute school, earning his jump wings and Green Beret. He earned his 3rd Combat Infantryman Badge for action during Operation AAR Roster II, seek and destroy mission in the Rung Sat Special Zone with the 5th Mobile Strike Force B55. In March 1969, while in Vietnam, he was promoted to Colonel in the Army Reserve.
From 1969 to 1971 CWO4 Meyer was assigned to 109th Military Intelligence Group at Ft Mead, Md and in Washington, D.C. with the 116th Military Intelligence Group. In 1971, at the end of more than 33 years in an Army uniform, he retired as a Colonel.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS AND BADGES
Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) 3rd award
Bronze Star Medal 3rd award
Purple Heart 2nd award
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Services Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal 3rd award
Navy Commendation Medal w/combat V
Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/3Battle Stars
WWII Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (Japan)
National Defense Service Medal 2nd award
Korean Service Medal w/4 Battle Stars
Vietnam Service Medal w/3 Battle Stars
Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/Gold Hour Glass (3d award)
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal w/Bronze Star
Philippine Liberation Ribbon w/Bronze Service Star
United Nations Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
U.S. Parachutist Badge
Vietnamese Special Forces Parachutist Badge.
Distinguished Unit Citation (Presidential Unit Citation) for the battle of SEGOK (3Bn/7IN/3rdID - Hill 717, Korea 1951)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (5th SFG(A) Vietnam 1968-69)
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (1BN/34IN/24thID WWII 1945)
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation (3BN/7IN/3dID Korea 1950-52)
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm (5th SFG(A) Vietnam 68-69)
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal 1st Class (5th SFG(A)Vietnam 1968-69)
Vietnam Cross of Gallentry w/Palm (5th SFG(A) Vietnam 1968-69)
Meyer, Leo J
Colonel US Army
Date of Birth: 10/06/1917
Date of Death: 01/12/2006
Buried at: Section 8-J Row 9 Site 2
Arlington National Cemetery