WEST HARTFORD – Northwest Catholic High School welcomed two graduates who are also United States military veterans for a Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11.
Retired Navy Capt. Robert Leeds, ’73, right, and Army Capt. Matthew Lecours, ’05, addressed the student body about their experiences in the military and how they have influenced their lives.
Captain Leeds entered the Navy via the Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., after attending Providence College, and was commissioned an ensign in 1979.
He earned his Naval Flight Officer wings with a specialty in electronic warfare and was assigned to a Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadron (VQ-2) in Rota, Spain. He was ultimately named the commanding officer of that squadron. He was assigned to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but was out of the building that day. Capt. Leeds retired from the Navy in 2004 after 26 years of service and then stayed on at the Pentagon for eight years on the Navy staff specializing in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle development.
He is now a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and is an associate scout for the San Diego Padres baseball team.
Captain Leeds spoke about the types of missions he flew and the places he traveled to over his Navy career. He said his experiences showed him “how the rest of the world lives and works… how we’re different and how we’re the same.”
The retired captain also spoke about the sacrifices made by those in the military – time away from families – and honored those he knew who died in service to the nation, saying that they made the ultimate sacrifice.
Captain Lecours began his military career as a member of the Army ROTC program at the Uni-versity of Scranton in Pennsylvania, where he studied political science. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Adjutant General’s Corps in 2009 and was stationed with the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, in Fort Drum, N.Y., where he was a personnel officer for a field artillery battalion.
Captain Lecours deployed for 13 months to southeastern Afghanistan, where he lived on a small forward operating base called FOB Azizzula. He was responsible for the soldiers as they moved around the battlefield, and his team helped soldiers get their awards, promotions and evaluations. Upon his return, the captain was a brigade personnel officer, maintaining the levels of 76 unique occupational specialties in a 3,700-person brigade. He now works for Bloomberg LP.
He spoke about the realities of his deployment to Afghanistan and the work he did – what the conditions were like, how soldiers celebrated holidays overseas and what it was like working with the people of Afghanistan. He emphasized that while not everyone is able to serve their country in the military, everyone can still serve their country by helping each other.
“I really enjoyed the presentation,” said Brittney Lundy, ’16. “It was really intriguing to hear about everything they’ve experienced.”