User:Balloonman/afd/Leo J. Meyer/article

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Leo John Meyer
Leo J. Meyer 1969
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1937-1971
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Combat Infantryman Badge (3)
Soldiers Medal
Bronze Star (3)
Purple Heart (2)
Combat Infantryman Badge, 3rd Award.

Leo J. Meyer (born in New York, New York, October 6, 1917) was a U.S. Army officer who served in uniform for more than 33 years (30 years on active duty) and fought in three wars for the United States.

Early life[edit]

(Meyer - foreground drummer) The Field Music of the 102nd Engineer band moving to Evening Parade, Camp Smith, NY 1937

Born into a working class family in New York City, Meyer dropped out of high school and helped support his family during his father's illness. He began working for the Guardian Life Insurance Company during the day. In the evening he would play drums in dance bands; traveling to and from engagements via the subway system while carrying a full set of drums. Music was a major interest, but soldiering is what he really wanted to do. He found a way to do both.

By 1936 Meyer had joined the New York National Guard 102nd Engineer Regimental Field Music as a bandsman through the NYNG Cadet Corps.


Before World War II[edit]

In October 1937 Meyer enlisted into Company ‘B’, 1st Battalion, 102nd Engineer Regiment. In addition to drilling with the 102nd Engineers in Manhattan, he maintained his status in the NYNG Cadet Corps and in 1938 began attending drill with Squadron 'C', 101st Cavalry in Brooklyn. By May 1940 he was a corporal with the 102nd Engineers.

S/Sgt Meyer, 102d Eng Regimental Message Center Chief on a US Army Harley Davidson WLA motorcycle, June 1941, Tennessee Maneuvers.

In October 1940, with the war in Europe threatening to involve the United States, the 102nd Engineer Regiment, 27th Infantry Division (United States), New York National Guard, was called to active federal service by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The entire division moved by train to Fort McClellan, Alabama for training. 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 and Company Supply Sergeant, 1st Battalion and Regimental Message Center Chief, and 1st Battalion and Regimental Sergeant Major. The federal activation of the National Guard was intended to be a one year preparation evolution, however under the President’s Service Extension Act of August 1941 it had been extended for an additional six months. Meyer reenlisted as a master sergeant two days after becoming the Regiment’s Sergeant Major. Twenty-four days later the United States was dragged into what would become the Second World War. On 14 December 1941 the Division was deployed to California and then to the Territory of Hawaii in what became the Pacific Theater of Operations combat zone.

World War II[edit]

Lieutenants L. J. Meyer and L. B. Fair (A Co /34 IN /24th ID) explore a Kawasaki Ki-45 "Toryu" / "NICK" fighter, September 1945, Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands.

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 completed the US Army Air Forces Officer Candidate School (OCS). After commissioning, Lieutenant Meyer was assigned as the Director of Training for the 26th College Training Detachment, Mt Union College in Alliance, Ohio preparing air crewmen for the Army Air Forces. He returned to New York on a three day pass and married Veronica P. Lynch on May 9th, 1943. By May 1944 he 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 training. Later, during a cadre assignment at the Infantry Replacement Training Center, Camp Blanding, Florida he volunteered again for another combat zone tour. In June 1945 he was serving in Company ‘A’, 34th US Infantry, 24th Infantry Division (United States) in the Philippines. It was there that he earned his first Combat Infantryman Badge and Bronze Star Medal.

Service after World War II and during the Korean War[edit]

In 1946 after serving in occupied Japan, Captain Meyer returned to civilian life. He reenlisted in the National Guard and by June 1947 he was back on active duty as an Army of the United States master sergeant. While working as an instructor to the Organized Reserve Corps he received his high school GED; often referred to as a General Educational Diploma and applied for the Regular Army Warrant Officer Program and simultaneously, reinstatement of his Army of the United States commission. He received both and put the warrant acceptance in his hip pocket.

7th US Infantry Regimental Drum and Bugle Corps while visiting Camp Pickett, VA 1950 during PORTEX Train-up.

As a 1st lieutenant he was assigned to the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (United States) at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. In 1949 Meyer organized and directed the 7th Infantry Regimental Drum and Bugle Corps funded by unit funds and donations. By the summer of 1950 he was in route to the Korean peninsula. While serving under Frederick C. Weyand he participated in several combat engagements one of which earned him his second Combat Infantryman Badge and another Bronze Star Medal.

The Cold War[edit]

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 active duty. The Army at the mid 20th century allowed reserve officers to be promoted prior to retirement without serving actively at that rank. Lieutenant Colonel Meyer was not ready to hang up the uniform and pulled his Regular Army warrant officer acceptance letter from his hip pocket.

As a warrant officer he was assigned a new military occupational specialty; Military Intelligence, and became an Intelligence Technician in what was known as the Counter Intelligence Corps. From 1961 to 1968 Meyer served in the 1st US Army Support Group New York City, NY; 108th Intelligence Corps Group Camden, NJ ; 401st Intelligence Corps Detachment Honolulu, HI; and the 116th Military Intelligence Group Washington, DC. 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.

CWO4 Leo J. Meyer, age 51, makes his graduation jump in 1969. Other Special Forces warrant officers join him for his final jump.

Vietnam War service[edit]

Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4) Meyer was assigned to Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. He was not airborne qualified. He felt that he needed to be. The 5th Special Forces Group conducted a parachute (“jump”) school in Dong Ba Thin to train Republic of Vietnam soldiers for airborne duties.

In his 27th year in the active Army and at age 51, Meyer graduated from “jump” school, earning his jump wings and later through actions directly engaged with the enemy; earned his 3rd Combat Infantryman Badge and Bronze Star Medal. In October 1969, while in Vietnam, he was selected for promotion to colonel in the Army Reserve.

Post Vietnam and retirement[edit]

From 1969 to 1971 CWO4 Meyer was assigned in the Washington, D.C. area as an Intelligence Technician 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.

In his early retirement years, Meyer allowed the adventurer in him loose. His first solo trip was to Turkey. His next trip was more adventurous. Pursuing his interest in the art of the American whaler (see Contribution to the arts below) he set out for the Azores where the hunt of the whale was still done from small wind driven boats launched from the beach.

Summer 1973 Savoonga, St Lawrence Island, Alaska;

Meyer displays the village seasonal tally up to June.

His next adventure was to Alaska for five weeks, where he accompanied the Eskimo hunters of Savoonga, St Lawrence Island onto the ice flows of the Bering Sea in pursuit of the walrus. His last solo adventure, in 1976, took him to Kenya to see the elephants of eastern Africa. In all of his journeys he used no weapon, save the camera; his goal was merely to see it for himself.

The traveling did not abate, but became more relaxed; accompanied by his wife Vera as they visited Europe, South America and long time military friends around the United States.

In 1984 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. As of December 2007, there are 303 names on "The List".

Meyer had been a staunch supporter of his Korean War unit’s association, the 7th US Infantry Regiment (“Cottonbalers”) Association along with his former commander Frederick Weyand, and served as a member of its Board of Directors.

Promotion history[edit]

Rank / Pay Grade NYNG AUS USAR RA
Private / G7[1] OCT 1937
Private First Class / G6 JUL 1939
Corporal / G5 MAY 1940 OCT 1940
Sergeant / G4 DEC 1940
Staff Sergeant / G3 MAR 1941
Technical Sergeant / G2 MAY 1941
Master Sergeant / G1 NOV 1941
2nd Lieutenant / O1[2] MAR 1943
1st Lieutenant / O2 FEB 1944
Captain / O3 APR 1946
Master Sergeant / G1 JUN 1947
1st Lieutenant / O2 SEP 1948
Warrant Officer Junior Grade / W1[3] NOV 1948
Captain / O3 NOV 1950
Chief Warrant Officer 2 / W2 NOV 1954
Major / O4 MAR 1955
Chief Warrant Officer 3 / W3 OCT 1958
Lieutenant Colonel / O5 OCT 1961
Chief Warrant Officer 4 / W4 NOV 1964
Colonel / O6 MAR 1969


Awards and Badges[edit]

Contributions to the arts[edit]

In 1953 while assigned in Massachusetts, Meyer met Dr. "Ralph" Bussler, an Osteopathic Doctor who had established a business making 54mm lead figures, "Tin soldiers" (soldiers, horses, and weapons) for collectors and war game enthusiasts. He learned how to create and cast the figures and contributed to the Bussler line of civil war sets.

One of several whales teeth "scrimshawed" by Leo J. Meyer between 1964 and 1971.

Bussler and Meyer figures are featured in the book Making And Collecting Military Miniatures by Bob Bard. In 1964 while assigned in Honolulu, Meyer learned the art of the American Whaler, Scrimshaw (carving on whale ivory) from Richard (Dick) Hull. He carved larger sperm whale teeth with eagles’ heads or traditional scenes of ships and whales and smaller pieces for jewelry. During his first assignment in Washington, DC his art was on exhibit in the Fort Lesley J. McNair Post Library and he participated in the first Smithsonian Institution Festival of American Folklife, July 1967 as a Scrimshaw Artist. Some of his Scrimshaw Art is exhibited in the book Scrimshaw: variations on a theme by Martha Bowen.

Leo Meyer’s niche, section 8-J, Arlington National Cemetery.

Colonel Meyer was inurned at Arlington National Cemetery on May 18th, 2006. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife of more than 62 years, two children and two grandchildren.

External links[edit]

External Sources[edit]

See also[edit]

{{DEFAULTSORT:Meyer, Leo}} [[Category:United States Army officers]] [[Category:American military personnel of World War II]] [[Category:American military personnel of the Korean War]] [[Category:American military personnel of the Vietnam War]] [[Category:Recipients of the Combat Infantryman Badge]] [[Category:Recipients of Distinguished Service Medal]] [[Category:Recipients of the Bronze Star medal]] [[Category:American artists]] [[Category:1917 births]] [[Category:2006 deaths]] [[de:Leo J. Meyer]] [[hu:Leo J. Meyer]]