WWII veteran paratrooper Leo Dean joins Wish Jump 2012!
Leo Dean of Norvest Financial Services, Inc. in Latham is a Capital Region native and WWII veteran paratrooper. He’s also Secretary to the Albany Port District Commission. After his wife passed away in 1998, he began to wonder if he still had the nerve to “step out the door.” He called a friend that was a skydiver and Leo soon found himself up in a plane and ready to pull the rip cord once again. By 2009, at the age of 85, Leo completed more than 130 jumps. Today he still goes skydiving around the country and in Europe, and has joined the Wish Jump 2012 team in support of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.
Yes, Leo, I’d say you’ve still got the nerve!
Leo served our country as a member of the U.S. Army 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT), one of the U.S. Army’s first elite combat units, which began its existence in March of 1943, training in the backwoods of Georgia. Although it began as an element of the 17th Airborne Division and was eventually incorporated into the 13th Airborne Division, the 517th saw most of its combat in Italy, southern France, and the Battle of the Bulge, as an independent unit.
Before its dissolution after only thirty-three months, the outfit of 2,500 men endured some of the heaviest fighting of the European campaigns – from Italy through the invasion of Southern France, then the bitter winter in the Ardennes (in the Battle of the Bulge) and the final thrust into Germany.
During its relatively brief lifetime, the 517th Regimental Parachute Combat Team collected one Medal of Honor, six Distinguished Service Crosses, five Legion of Merits, 131 Silver Stars, 631 Bronze Stars, 2 Air Medals, 4 Soldiers Medals, 17 French Croix De Guerre, and 1,576 Purple Hearts — at the cost of 252 killed. The 517th was formally deactivated in 1946.
It’s an honor to have Leo as part of our team.
Read more about Leo in this excellent article by Paul Grondahl of the Times Union, “French Medal Honors 1944 Heroics”. Listen to Leo here on Growing Bolder Radio. Read more about the 517th PRCT here.