News: Neillsville – Am. Legion Recognizes Comstock (Aug 2017)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 8/23/2017
American Legion Recognition (Comstock - 2017)
Neillsville American Legion Post 73 is honoring Leonard “Bill” Comstock for his military service. Comstock is a Vietnam veteran who served in the U. S. Army from March 1968 to October 1969. (Contributed photo)
By Todd Schmidt
Neillsville American Legion Post 73 is honoring Leonard “Bill” Comstock for his military service.
Comstock grew up in Merrillan, and was raised on the family farm. He graduated from Alma Center High School in 1966. After graduation, he moved to Belvidere, IL and started working at the Chrysler Motors Plant.
In March 1968, he volunteered for the U. S. Army draft to avoid going into the Marines, as they were drafting heavily.
He went to Ft. Campbell, KY for basic training. His A.I. training was at Ft. Polk, LA.
In August 1968, Comstock was deployed to Vietnam. He was assigned to a 4.2-in. mortar gun crew (called Four Deuce Mortars).
After a few months firing the guns, he was transferred into the FDC (Fire Direction Center), where he was eventually put in charge of plotting all fire missions.
After five months, he was sent to the rear for a few days, and was able to have his first shower. In February 1969, he took leave, and went to Hawaii for one week, and then returned to Vietnam.
In March 1969, he contracted both types of malaria at the same time. He spent about 30 days in the hospital in Saigon.
To reduce his fever, which was 108 degrees, he was put into a water bed. This covered his entire body and was constantly controlled at 50 degrees.
Due to the cold, his body was continually curling up, so the nurses had to keep straightening him out. After recovering, he was returned to his military outfit.
At different intervals during the night, they would fire rounds at potential enemy movement routes. The first hill they dropped him at was L.Z. Chippewa.
“I didn’t know where that was, nor did I ever know any of the locations of where I was dropped off at after that hill, although, as I understood, it was along the Ho Chi Minh trail area,” he recalled.
In August 1969, Comstock was given two options; extend for two months in the country, and get discharged five months early, or go back to the U. S. (Kansas), and serve out the remaining seven months.
“I chose to extend the two months in Vietnam and get out early,” he said.
In Sept 1969, he was promoted to E5 Sergeant. In October 1969, he was honorably discharged with a Bronze Star medal.
In 1972, while living in Rockford, IL, one of the types of malaria came back. He went to one of the area hospitals, and the doctors had no way of making an accurate diagnosis for malaria.
“They would not believe me when I told them it was malaria,” he said. “They kept asking me what kind of drugs I was taking. I told them I wasn’t on any drugs. I knew it was malaria, because I had it in Vietnam, and I knew all the symptoms.”
At this time, there hadn’t been enough cases, so they were totally unprepared for testing. They sent the lab work to Chicago, and while waiting overnight for the results, Comstock had to drag himself from the bed to take a cold shower. He had to hang on to the rails until his temperature came down.
The next day, the results came back, and the diagnosis was malaria. The doctors told him he had saved his own life by lowering his body temperature. The doctors wanted to know everything that he could tell them about malaria.
In 1976, he moved his family to Poplar Grove, IL, and started farming, raising beef and hogs, while also working at Chrysler.
In 1996, he retired from Chrysler after 30 years, and bought a farm in Neillsville, where he raised beef cattle and crops.
He retired from farming in 2006. He built a new home on the same property and started a new business, Boulder Ridge Investments, LLC, which involves buying, remodeling, renting, and selling properties.
In September 1970, he married Barbara in Rockford. They have two sons and five grandchildren.
Comstock enjoys camping, fishing, and hunting. Every year a group of family and friends come to hunt on his property.
He enjoys teaching young people how to hunt. He also enjoys traveling with his camper to different states.
“I am thankful to be honored by Post 73,” he said.
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