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Heart of purple and gold

by By BOB DRISCOLL/Special to The Press
| December 14, 2020 1:08 AM

A local Purple Heart recipient has been chosen to be one of the nation’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project honorees.

U.S. Army Capt. Leonard Crosby of Post Falls, a Vietnam War veteran, will represent his fellow Purple Heart heroes as Idaho’s representative at a multi-day tribute to the courage and sacrifice of America’s combat wounded.

The Purple Heart Patriot Project is a program of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. The all-expense-paid trip includes visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s Headquarters, a special tour of the newly renovated National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and other tributes to service.

“Leonard and his fellow Patriot Project honorees are true American heroes,” said Richie Lay, a Purple Heart recipient and chairman of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. “America’s Purple Heart veterans have given so much to defend freedom and that sacrifice must always be remembered. We are privileged to be able to provide this unique salute to service for our Purple Heart heroes.”

Crosby was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1964, serving until 1970. During the Vietnam War, Crosby served two tours of duty, the first as a Platoon Leader with the 4th Infantry Division and the second as a Company Commander with the 101st Airborne Division.

His service included action during Operation MacArthur, the Tet Offensive and Operation Nevada Eagle.

In April 1968, Crosby was wounded by shrapnel from an enemy mortar round. Later, Crosby was shot in the neck by an enemy sniper.

Along with his Purple Heart, CPT Crosby received numerous awards and commendations, including a Silver Star, two Bronze Star Medals, the Soldier’s Medal and more.


Photo courtesy Bob Driscoll Leonard Crosby, shown here during his service, was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1964, served until 1970.

After leaving military service, Crosby worked in banking and finance, and has been active in his community. He has served on numerous commissions at the local and state level, as well as several nonprofit boards.

Crosby is also involved in veterans organizations, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans of America, and the American Legion.

Crosby has also been a leading advocate to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to construct a veterans home that will serve veterans throughout northern Idaho. He was nominated for the Patriot Project by his wife, Mary.

When asked what his service meant to him, Mr. Crosby said he was “proud to serve his country in combat.”

He also encouraged younger Americans to “give back to our country in some way. Either through service in the military, service in their community or through their profession.”

Col. Russ Vernon (Ret.), executive director for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission, said their Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for America and this is an opportunity to thank them.

"For some, this will be like the homecoming they never had," he said. "We received hundreds of nominations from across the country and we look forward to honoring Leonard for his lifelong sacrifice and service to his community."

Bob Driscoll is with the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.