Senator Jeff Stone to honor Canyon Lake veteran

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To recognize and thank our community veteran heroes, Senator Jeff Stone will be honoring outstanding local veterans, including Canyon Lake resident Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth (Paul) LeGrice, with the 2017 Veterans Service Awards in the 28th Senate District on May 27.

I consider it my good fortune to have gotten to know this community hero and am pleased to share some of what I have learned about Paul LeGrice.

Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. After his initial tour of duty as an enlisted soldier, he attended Officer Candidate School, receiving his commission as an infantry officer in 1965. Lieutenant Colonel LeGrice’s assignments included tours of duty in Germany, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam and numerous stateside assignments. Suffering from mysterious fevers and joint pain suspected from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, Paul was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 1985 to 1986.

After withdrawing from active duty in 1993, Paul continued to work for the department of the Army as a civilian employee until he retired in 2004.

During his years with the Army, Paul acquired a master’s degree. He has been presented with numerous awards during his service, including three Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and, most impressively, the Legion of Merit (LOM). The LOM is given for  exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

In 2005 he was presented with the first Stalwart Award by the Army for his work with the Department of Defense as a civilian. The Stalwart Award is given to employees who distinguish themselves amongst their peers and leaders as outstanding IMCOM civilians exceeding the call of duty to achieve the Army and IMCOM objectives.

In 1980 to 1983, Paul and his wife Mary served as joint coordinators of “RENEW,” a renewal of faith program at Saint Justin’s Church in Toms River, New Jersey. For many years, the LeGrices chaperoned U.S. military high school students on the “Freedom Train” to Berlin, Germany.

Paul and Mary LeGrice have two children and five grandchildren. They’ve been residents of Canyon Lake since 2004 where Paul has volunteered as a member of the City of Canyon Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee since 2008. He has trained in the Emergency Operation Center to become proficient in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), First Aid and Certified Emergency Response Training (CERT). Paul and his wife Mary are currently the Canyon Lake West Area Coordinators and they have trained to head up Emergency Preparedness Activities such as damage assessment in that area of the City.

Paul is also a licensed HAM Radio operator and helps to lead the Monday night radio check exercises that keep our city emergency preparedness HAM Radio operators current and assure that our city will not have problems communicating during an emergency.

In 2016, Paul went to Corcsicana, Texas to coordinate an effort by his Company Bravo to tell the story of Sergeant Garcia. The town was honoring Sergeant Garcia who served in Paul’s company. They were producing a statue of Sergeant Garcia and Paul coordinated the efforts, contacting the sculpture artist many times gathering artifacts to be placed on the statue.  He participated in the celebration with eight of his men in attendance. At this time, he helped to oversee the production of a DVD, “A Very Special Soldier,” relating the story of when Sergeant Garcia ran to the Viet Cong entrenchments three times to throw grenades in their bunkers.

The recent remarks by Kenneth Bozak in his email to Paul LeGrice are moving and illustrate the strength of Paul LeGrice’s command in Viet Nam at the time of Sergeant Garcia’s heroics.

“Thank you Paul for everything you did, not only for “Spider,” but for all you gave to the soldiers of your command. A “Mustang Officer” that I am proud to salute as leadership is a quality that cannot be taught. It’s earned, just as you earned the infantry badge. It’s something fewer than one percent will ever have – a tiny little silver badge that only the greatest men on earth wear,” said Kenneth. “You are by far the greatest hero I will ever know as you commanded men in battle, not only to eliminate the adversaries but to bring back your soldiers.”

The entire experience of coming together to honor “Spider” has turned into an even larger event encompassing many of Paul LeGrice’s soldiers and families.”

Paul also participated in the White House ceremony when President Obama honored Sergeant Garcia. Sadly, Sergeant Garcia passed away, an alcoholic, in a home in Corsicana.

Paul has shared his respect for our military by speaking eloquently at the 2014 City of Canyon Lake National Day of Prayer and as a spokesperson for Vietnam Veterans at the 2015 Canyon Lake Veterans Day Celebration that specifically honored those who served in Vietnam.  Although, it is difficult for Paul to talk about his military experiences, he has always found the courage to publically honor his fellow soldiers.

Paul has never shared any of the above service specifics with his many friends in Canyon Lake until he recently experienced a Viral Encephalitis and was in a coma. During that week, he relived some of his Vietnam experiences. An extremely proud and humble man, he had withheld everything inside until then. Like many of our honored service personnel, Paul struggles with PTSD and is haunted with the concern that “he could not bring all his men back.”

The 2017 Veteran’s Service Award from State Senator Stone goes a long way to illustrate “that we owe Paul LeGrice and fellow veterans a debt that can never be repaid.”

Thank you Paul and to all of our active service personnel and veterans that you so diligently represent!

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