Vietnam Vet Lester ‘Jake’ Buchanan Dedicated His Life to Public Service
Lester "Jake" Buchanan is the consummate public servant. In addition to his service as an Army veteran, which included a tour in Vietnam, Buchanan worked as a police officer in Port Jervis and the Eastern Regional Police Department, as well as holding a seat on the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors and Westfall Township Police Department. The Matamoras, Pa. resident's dedication extended beyond his professional roles and elected positions: the former Cub Scout and Boy Scout was the leader for his sons' troops.
Lester's lifetime of service is one of the reasons his daughter Gretchen Buchanan nominated him as a WPDH Vet Who Rocks.
"I know there are many good men out there. My father is not only a Veteran and served his country and community, but he is the best human being I know, in every single aspect of the words. He hasn't told us how to live - he lived and lives and he lets us watch him do it. My hero. I couldn't ask for a better role model," Gretchen wrote in her nominating letter.
Her loving letter is ultimately what led WPDH staff to select Lester as the March WPDH Vet Who Rocks. Lester receives a $500 prize and is in the running for a $10,000 grand prize to be awarded after Veterans Day. The WPDH Vets Who Rock program is made possible by the support of Thompkins Mahopac Bank, Mental Health America of Dutchess County and Unity Ambulette. The program recognizes veterans across the Hudson Valley who have dedicated themselves to serving the community through their military service and in their lives after the military.
Lester's life of public service began when he joined the Army a couple of days after graduating high school. He pushed to be deployed to Vietnam.
"I had a three-year enlistment. It looked like my time was gonna get up without me seeing the big show, so I volunteered to go. They finally sent me over when I had 14 months left," Buchanan said. "I spent a year from June of '67 to June of '68 in Vietnam."
Lester credited his time in scouting as a boy with teaching him life lessons that influenced his time in the military, lessons he paid forward to the scouts he led.
"The scoutmasters, as I think back on it now, were all World War II veterans in the late '50s and early '60s and some of the things that they taught us carried over into the military," Lester said. "I probably took more from them what they taught me and tried to impart to my scouts what they imparted to me."
If you know of a Hudson Valley veteran we should consider as a WPDH Vet Who Rocks, tell us about them through our nomination form.