Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

Leonard E. Sperry

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

There Are So Many Orphans

PARSON, Tenn. — A U.S. Army major, recuperating at his Parsons home from injuries suffered in South Viet Nam, is appealing to American local civic organizations to lend a helping hand to needy South Vietnamese.

"So many villages have lost everything," reports Leonard E. Sperry, who is resting at his home at 108 East Second Street here with his wife and two young daughters.

The 37-year-old field officer said the villagers often "arrive in Saigon with nothing but the clothes on their back."

‘There are so many orphans there,'' he continued, "It is a very hot climate and summer-weight clothes arc the type needed."

Maj. Sperry proposes that ‘‘community civic organizations undertake some type of program of sending material assistance, such as food, clothing and medicine, to Tennesseans in Viet Nam for distribution to the needy villages and orphans.

"There is a tremendous need for this," he notes. "I had planned to write to a number of newspapers urging this venture just before I was wounded.

An 18-year veteran in the, military service. Maj. Sperry has been on two assignments in Viet Nam. He spent a year in that war-torn region in 1962-63 and was returned this past June. His promotion to major came Oct. 21 shortly after he was wounded Sept. 14.

His latest duty in Viet Nam was to act as senior adviser to a Vietnamese District Chief. "With member's of my team, we assisted in military efforts, public health affairs, communications, police and public safety activities," he points out. "I lived in a Vietnamese house with six members of my team."

Maj. Sperry was wounded while returning from an operation in a governmental district just north of Saigon.

 He describes the incident:

"A Vietnamese sergeant and two United States sergeants from my advisory team and I were riding in a jeep. A terrorist threw a hand grenade into the back seat of the jeep, it landed on the floor and exploded.

"I was blown out of the jeep and woke up lying in the street. I lost consciousness and the next time I came to I was in the 17th field hospital in Saigon. The three sergeants also were wounded.

"Both bones in my arm were splintered. I remained here 10 days, then I was evacuated by air to a general hospital in Tokyo. I had additional arm and chest surgery here where I remained three weeks.

"Then I was brought again by air to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Here they set my arm, put it in a cast from my left shoulder to the tips of my fingers, treated the open wounds and let me come home on a 30-day leave.

"Returning home to be with my family was the best medicine of all."

Maj. Sperry says the job of nation-building and successes and the drive for military victory are linked in American efforts in South Viet Nam.

"I think there has been great progress in Viet Nam since my first assignment there in 1963 in both United States and Vietnamese civil and military efforts," the officer notes.

"The majority of the people in South Viet Nam are behind the effort. They treat the United States soldiers very well and there are a great many real friendships among United States forces and the Vietnamese."

Maj. Sperry says the morale of the GI is "superior."

The officer says the task of building a nation in South Viet Nam often is overlooked. "The civic organizations and the armed forces are not. emphasizing the extremely long hours many Americans are working under extra hard conditions to assist Vietnamese in improving their own standards of living."

"I was also impressed with the close and friendly operations between the Americans and the Vietnamese. Their mutual trust and splendid cooperation are outstanding."

For his military efforts over the years, Maj. Sperry has received the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart for wounds suffered from an armed enemy and a number of service ribbons.

Besides his Vietnamese assignments, he has spent five and one half years in Germany, a year in Korea, a year in Alaska and the remaining years in the states.

The major was reared in North Platte, Neb., and finished high school at Grainton, Neb. He attended Wentworth Military Academy at Lexington, Mo.

His parents are Mr. and Mrs. Shelby Sperry of Grainton. He has two sisters and one brother.

He is married to the former Miss Jackie Houston and they have two daughters, Shelley, 4, and Teri, 2.

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