Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Leon Albert Edney, who served in Vietnam, commanded USS Constellation and served as vice chief of Naval operations.
Leon Albert Edney was born in March 1935 in Dedham, Massachusetts. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953 and attributed this decision to the values of patriotism instilled in him by his parents, as well as to his desire to have his college education paid for.
Edney became a Naval aviator in 1958 and served his first tours with Air Anti-Submarine Squadrons 27 and 24. He earned a master’s degree in international relations from Harvard University. He subsequently served as special assistant to the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Research and Development in Washington, D.C. From 1970 to 1971, Edney served as a White House fellow and special assistant to the Secretary of Transportation. In an interview conducted by his grandson, Edney described attending the Naval Academy as one of his fondest memories. Edney became executive officer of Attack Squadron 27 in 1971. In the following year, he oversaw the squadron’s role in strikes over Hanoi that led to the release of prisoners of war.
In 1976, Edney assumed the role of commanding officer of the oiler USS Ponchatoula, stationed in Pearl Harbor. This was followed by another role commanding the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in 1980, which he described to his grandson as being one the highlights of his military career. Edney was designated a commodore in 1981 and served in many roles including assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare and director of the Aviation Plans and Requirements Division. In 1988, he was named vice chief of Naval Operations and later served as commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command during the Gulf War. Before his retirement from service in 1992, Edney visited the Soviet Union prior to its dissolution in 1989.
Edney accumulated over 5,600 total flight hours and numerous awards, including two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Navy Distinguished Service Medals, three Legions of Merit, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and a Bronze Star.
He told his grandson that the Navy was a life of bonding and friendship, where he could depend on the person next to him. This bond remained strong after his retirement, and he continued to communicate with his old classmates from the Naval Academy. Edney remained active after retirement, serving as a distinguished professor of leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy, member of the Retired Officers Association and Naval Academy Alumni Association and as a board member of the Armed Services YMCA in San Diego. He resides in California with his wife, children and grandchildren. According to Edney, the military was the most satisfying way to spend his life. He said if he had to do it all over again, he would.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
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 http://www.loc.gov/vets/.