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Army Airborne veteran Leroy Quintana served in Vietnam before becoming a critically acclaimed poet.


Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Leroy Quintana. Leroy served during the Vietnam War.

Leroy Quintana was drafted into the United States Army in 1967. Upon reporting for service, Leroy was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas for basic training and later Fort Gordon, Georgia for advanced infantry training. From Fort Gordon, Leroy was selected for airborne infantry training, and sent to jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

After graduating from jump school, the New Mexico native was given a month’s leave before being deployed with the 101st Airborne in Phan Rang, Vietnam. Upon arriving, Leroy was assigned to a five-man reconnaissance team and tasked with performing week-long reconnaissance patrols in the surrounding jungles. During one of these patrols, Leroy and his team took up a position to shelter from the rain. Unknown to them, they had stopped right next to a trail used by enemy forces. Later that day, a file of enemy troops passed near Leroy and his team but did not detect them. After the column had passed, Leroy and his team were able to radio in the location of the enemy troops for U.S. gunships to attack.

After leaving Vietnam, Leroy served out the final three months of his enlistment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was discharged in 1969 at the rank of specialist four. After returning to New Mexico, Leroy reenrolled at the University of New Mexico and earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He then worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for a short time before winning an assistantship at New Mexico State University and becoming the editor for the literature magazine, Puerto del Sol. Leroy went on to publish several of his own poetry books to great critical acclaim, including Hijo del Pueblo and Sangre.

More of his story can be found at:

Thank you for your service, Leroy!

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It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at

Graphic by Kimber Garland: Kimber is a junior at Indiana University – Bloomington studying International Studies and Korean.

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Published on Jan. 16, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 80

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