John C. Leslie - US Navy - St Augustine, FL
- High School: Graduated June 1963, Kerman Union High School, Kerman, CA.
- College: Graduated with a BS in Aeronautical Engineers from California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo, CA 17 June 1967.
- US Navy Test Pilot School, NAS Patuxent, MD, Class 68, January 1975 to December 1975.
- Advanced Degree: Master of Business Administration, Dowling College, Oakdale NY 1993.
- Employed during summers and holiday periods from age 9 to 19 by Agair, Inc as a Flagger and Loader for this Crop Duster company. At age 20 John was employed by the Kerman Telephone Company as a Lineman.
- Attended Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola from 4 July 1967 to 22 September 1967,
- Commissioned as an Ensign in US Navy on 22 September 1967 at NAS Pensacola, FL.
- Designated as a Naval Aviator on 19 February 1969 at NAS Kingsville, TX.
- Advanced Flight Instructor, Kingsville, TX March 1969 to March 1971. F-9 and TA-4J aircraft.
- Light Attack Training April 1971 to December 1971 in the A-7E Corsair II aircraft.
- Assigned to Light Attack Squadron (VA) Squadron 97.
- Pre-deployment training with VA-97 January 1972 to September 1972.
- Combat cruise to the Western Pacific, September 1972 to May 1973. Participated in 105
- Combat Missions in the following campaigns: Linebacker I, Linebacker II, End Run (aerial mining of approaches to Haiphong Harbor), and Operation Homecoming (repatriation of POWs). With the official end of operations against Vietnam on 27 January 1973, continued combat sorties in Laos until 21 February 1973.
- Post-combat experiences included:
o Graduate, US Navy Test Pilot School, December 1975
o Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Five (VX-5) as Strike Warfare Operations Officer. Participated in development of the new F/A18 Hornet aircraft, one of eight Naval Aviators to fly and evaluate flights in the F-18 Prototype.
- Special Assistant for Strike Warfare to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, USN.
- Two Command tours: Commanding Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 25 (VFA-25) for the first extended deployment of the F/A-18A Hornet, and Commanding Officer of VFA- 125, the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron with 1100 Sailors and Marines, with 60 aircraft. VFA-125 was a joint USN/USMC squadron with 60% Navy and 40% Marines across all ranks and rates.
- Retired as a Commander, USN on 31 October 1988 at NAS Lemoore, CA. Military experience for 21 years and one month of Active Duty:
- Following his time in the US Navy, Mr. Leslie was employed as an Experimental Test Pilot by the then Grumman Aerospace Corporation flying F-14D Tomcats, A-6E Intruders, EA-6B Prowlers, and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. In the closing five years with the now Northrop Grumman Corporation, he served as the Integrated Program Team Leader for the Modifications and Overhaul operations for those same F-14, A-6, EA-6B, E-2C and F/A-18 aircraft.
- Mr. Leslie retired from Northrop Grumman in June 2006 following 39 years of dedicated service to the United States, first as an active-duty Naval Aviator, then as a pilot and manager of US Navy Aircraft Programs, having flown more than 6310 hours of flight time in 34 models and types of Navy aircraft.
Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans:
Mr. Leslie was immediately engaged in caring for his family members upon retirement from Northrop Grumman. He was present with his mother when she passed away in November 2006 in Sonora, CA, and again with the passing of his younger sister in January 2007 in Honolulu, HI. His father, Jack Leslie, also a former Naval Aviator, began to write his memoirs of growing up during the Great Depression and serving as a Torpedo Bomber Pilot during WW-II in the Western Pacific Ocean. John assisted in the process by sorting voice tapes and scribbled note into a manuscript format, and continued the process following his father’s passing in March 2009 in St Augustine, FL. John became a published co-author in 2015 with “In My Father’s Footsteps; A Story of Father and Son Naval Aviators ” by Jack and John Leslie. Prior to the release of the book, John had been a passive supporter of various veteran organizations such as the Tailhook Association (life member), the Association of Naval Aviation (life member), the Fist of the Fleet Association (life member and Board of Directors Officer), the A-7 Corsair II Association (life member and Board of Directors Officer).
John became a more “active” supporter of veterans following the release of the book. He volunteered with the following entities:
- Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL for their “Visit a Veteran” program. Following training and medical clearance, John visited all floors of the Hospital wing, one day a week, accessing rooms with veteran patients to visit and inquire of their care, or wherever the veteran or his family wished to take it.
- Community Hospice and Palliative Care in two capacities. First was as a “Hospice Care Volunteer” visiting veterans in their homes once a week, primarily to just visit and engage the patient’s mind and memory. John also received training and certification in their “Veterans History” program interviewing veterans and providing audio and video recordings for the Community Hospice program director to properly format and send to the Library of Congress.
- Veterans Treatment Court, St Johns/Putnam County. John volunteered to become a Mentor for the Veterans Treatment Court after attending a Veterans Council Meeting in 2016 where recruiters briefed the program. John signed up and was one of five volunteers as the first cadre of Mentors selected in December 2016. Shortly thereafter he became the Mentor Coordinator for this special Veterans only program, and continues today in the same capacity.
- Vietnam Veterans of America (WA), Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084, St Johns County. John became aware of the VVA- Chapter 1084, joining in October 2016 and became President in April 2017. He inaugurated a Monthly Chapter Newsletter, revitalized the membership, and increased the fundraising capabilities of the Chapter, allowing for greatly increasing funds available for donations, going from approximately $1000 a year to as much as $12,000 a year. In the course of his first three years as President, Chapter 1084 garnered the following awards: 2017 Florida State Council “Newsletter of the Year,” 2018 Florida State Council Chapter of the Year, and 2019 National VVA “National Membership Growth Award.”
- Vietnam Veterans of America Florida State Council. John was a founding Board of Directors Officer for the Florida Vietnam Veterans Assistance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Florida Corporation.
- Vietnam War 50th Year Commemoration. In 2018, John initiated the process to qualify VVA-1084 to serve as a Commemorative Partner with the Department of Defense 50th Year Vietnam War Commemoration Office in 2018. Since that date, VVA-1084 has presented approximately 300 Veteran Lapel Pins, 20 Blue Star Surviving Spouse Pins/Certificates, and 15 Gold Star Pins/Certificates to direct family members of those who died in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Later, in 2021, John initiated this same program with the Veterans Council of St. Johns County, INC.
- A-7 Corsair II Association. John has served as the VP for Membership for this 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation since 2014. The A7C2 Association’s main thrust is to make a legacy for the A-7 and the men and women who flew and maintained this workhorse during the Vietnam War and the initial stages of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. It contributes funds to various museums and memorials to maintain aircraft displays, but more importantly its main thrust is to provide scholarships to the youth of America, both at the College level, and the middle-to-high school students. Current activities include $8000 per year going to Navy and Air Force relatives of Association members at the College Level, and another $8000 per year for 10-12 scholarships to STEM Summer Camps to the National Flight Academy (associated with the Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL) and others such as the Space Academy in Huntsville, AL for pre-college students from rising 8th graders to rising 12th graders.
- Fist of the Fleet Association. John has served as Vice President since 2015 for this 501(c) (19) non-profit corporation. Its mission is to perpetuate the history of Naval Aviation Squadrons VT-17, VA-6B, VA-65, VA-25 and VFA-25, remember deceased veterans and comfort their survivors, conduct charitable and educational programs, foster and participate in activities of patriotic nature, assist current active squadron members, and provide assistance to family members in times of emergency.
- POW/MIA Museum and Memorial, Cecil Field, FL. John does not serve on the Board for this organization, but through his frequent participation in veteran activities there, and his position on the A-7 Corsair II Association, he has been able to facilitate donations that have provided the Naval Aviator Wings for the restoration of the Chapel of the High- Speed Pass. More recently he was successful in facilitating the donation of $5000 from the A-7 Association to assist in the construction of the Aircraft Display pad.
John’s work with the Veterans Council of St Johns Country and VVA Chapter 1084 has allowed him to assist in numerous events and actions contributing to our St. Johns County civic sector.
- VVA 1084 instituted a “Veterans in the Classroom” in conjunction with the St Johns County School District Curriculum Director. John and other chapter members collaborated with the Committee Chair (Blair Craig) to produce three major lessons, in accordance with Florida State guidelines for three specific weeks during the school year. First in that list was a presentation for “Constitution Week” usually held in September, then came “Veterans Day Week” in November, and then “Valor Week” in March of each year. Prior to the COVID-19 guidelines our presenters, usually 5-7 teams of two members each, would join 55-70 classes on a schedule set by the School District, and provide an in-person, school approved presentation. School year 2021-2022 was different due to the COVID-19 restrictions. So we video-taped these presentations, which were then available to be shown throughout the high schools in St Johns County. Those presentations were delivered to approximately 1700-2200 students each year.
- VVA 1084 was invited to participate by the School District in the County History Day competition as Judges in the past two years. John has served as one of the Judges each year and initiated a $500 donation to sponsor the field trip by one of the event winners to travel to and participate at the State competition.
- Under John’s leadership VVA 1084 has generously donated to the Movement to End Student Homelessness (MESH) since its inception in St Johns County. Likewise, annual donations go to Home Again St Johns (Homeless assistance), St. Gerard Campus (a fully accredited Interfaith Christian High School that caters to the special needs of the pregnant teenager). Boy Scout Troops (two in our County), The Epilepsy Foundation, United Way of St. Johns County (Empty Stocking Fund). The Kids Safe Zone, St Johns Housing Partnership, Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots.
- John sits on several committees led by the Veterans Council St Johns County that involve major planning and staffing to ensure success. Major events include annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and the Homeless Veterans Stand Down. These events include recognition of active duty and veterans, but also involves participation of the general population to attend and contribute with their respect and assistance for our military and veteran population, and service providers.
- John’s Military awards include a Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd), Air Medal (7th), Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V (2nd), Meritorious Unit Commendation (2nd), Navy Unit Commendation (2nd), National Defense Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2nd), Vietnam Service Medal (4th), Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Expert Pistol Ribbon.
- John’s most recent honors include serving as President of the Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084 of the Vietnam Veterans of America 2017-2021. Honors awarded to VVA-1084 during his presidency include; Florida State Newsletter of the Year in 2017, Florida State Chapter of the year in 2018, and National VVA Membership Growth Award in 2019 in the 51-100-member category.
- John was honored by selection in 2018 to be the Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Coordinator for the 7th District Court of St Johns and Putnam County and continues in that capacity to date.
Why should this Veteran be considered:
What a personally rewarding and fantastic friendship!
Working with John Leslie on Veterans focused areas since 2017 has been a whirlwind of activities and noteworthy accomplishments. Many of these are contained in sections #5 and 6 of this nomination. I’ll take this opportunity to focus on a few of John’s personal attributes and great leadership qualities which inspire all with whom he engages and interacts to help Veterans and our
Responsible – Vietnam Veterans of America – Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084. John became our President in 2017. He inaugurated a Monthly Chapter Newsletter, revitalized the membership, and increased the fundraising capabilities of the Chapter, allowing for greatly increasing funds available for donations to worthy causes, growing from approximately $1000 a year to as much as $12,000 a year. In the course of his first three years as President, Chapter 1084 garnered the following awards: 2017 Florida State Council “Newsletter of the Year,” 2018 Florida State Council “Chapter of the Year”, and 2019 National VVA “National Membership Growth Award”. John personally actively participated in or planned every one of those accomplishments.
Available – In 2017 VVA 1084 instituted a “Veterans in the Classroom” in conjunction with the St Johns County School District Curriculum Director produce three major lessons, for three specific weeks during the school year. First in that list was a presentation for “Constitution Week” usually held in September, then came “Veterans Day Week” in November, and then “Valor Week” in March of each year. Prior to the COVID-19 guidelines our presenters, usually 5-7 teams of two members each, would join 55-70 classes on a schedule set by the School District and provide an in-person school approved presentation. School year 2021-2022 was different due to the COVID-19 restrictions. So the Chapter video-taped these presentations which were shown throughout the high schools in St Johns County. In the past four years our presentations were delivered to approximately 1700-2200 students each year. John was an active presenter in each series of presentations
Thoughtful – John’s thoughtfulness and concern for Veterans’ welfare is clear in his participation in the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Florida “Visit a Veteran” program. John has visited all floors of the Hospital wing, one day a week, accessing rooms with Veteran patients to visit and engage them in conversation of their choice. Additionally, as a “Hospice Care Volunteer” for the Community Hospice and Palliative Care program John has visited Veterans in their homes once a week, primarily to engage the patient’s mind and memory, while allowing the primary care giver several hours of “personal” time to decompress or perform needed shopping.
To me, John C. Leslie Jr. is a true leader, and embodies the spirit we Veterans espouse – “NEVER AGAIN WILL ONE GENERATION OF VETERANS ABANDON ANOTHER”.