Ken Leland


I served in the Marines as a squad leader in Vietnam and spent most of my time In-country from 1966 to 1967.

We were continually in the “hot” demilitarized zone, or DMZ, that separated North and South Vietnam. I was wounded twice during my 13-month tour of duty. Here is memorial link and story about me visiting the family of one of the Marines killed in my squad

After returning to the United States, I became a police officer and then the chief of police in a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland. Later, I joined the Department of Agriculture. I have always gone to work, done my duty and tried to be a good friend and relative. But along the way, I noticed a lack of information about the Vietnam Era in school history course. In 1998 and with the help of some other Vietnam Veterans, we developed a program where we teach on a volunteer basis about the history of the war to high school students.

Many of those lessons involve the Vietnam War, but I use my war experiences as a starting point to talk to young people about choices and values, to raise questions that they will have to answer, whether or not they ever have to go to war.

Now, in early retirement, I share with young people my wartime experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned. I have logged more than 400 hours in classrooms and traveled more than 8,500 miles speaking to school students about the Vietnam War, patriotism and history. For these efforts, I received the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. I am very proud that the Vietnam War History is now a credit course in Hillsborough County.

I work with the Vietnam Veterans of America and have volunteered to give high school students a taste of living history in my presentations called, “My Tour of Duty.”
~ Ken Leland, Vietnam Veteran

Veteran Stories Collected by Jenny La Sala