Leonard A. Boulas
Len or Greek, as he is better known
to his friends, entered the military service in 1954 after having
volunteered for the draft to join his High School friends. At the time, he
had just finished his freshman year at Syracuse University, where he spent
a memorable year involved with crew, boxing, and football. Somewhere in
between these activities, he managed to take engineering courses, and
experienced the social environment of a large urban University. The two
personalities on campus at the time were Jim Brown, the football star who
was also a freshman, and Ben Schwartzwalder, the football coach who had
served with the Airborne in WW II, and later won Syracuse's only Division
1 National Football Championship. Growing up in upstate New York (Emira),
Syracuse was the University to go to, even through many large colleges
were actively recruiting football players from Elmira High Schools. These
included colleges as far West as Colorado.
Len was the oldest of three children which included two younger sisters.
His father, Tony, was from Greece, having jumped ship in Boston at an
early age (12) and then getting his citizenship through service in the
U.S. Navy during WWII. Kathryn, his mother was born in the United States
and was Polish. They met in the early 1930's in Uniontown, Pennsylvania,
were Len was born in November 1935. The family was in the restaurant
business for many years in Elmira.
After entering military service, Len took basic and advanced infantry
training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He then spent time on the marksmanship
committee awaiting orders to Infantry OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was
commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant Infantry in May 1956. Following OCS, he
attended the Ranger and Airborne courses at Fort Benning.
His initial assignment was to the 6th Infantry Regiment in Berlin,
Germany. From there it was off to the 501st Infantry 101st Airborne
Division at Fort Campbell, and then back to Fort Benning to the 2nd
Infantry Division. Following his assignment at the 2nd Infantry Division,
he pulled his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1962. This was during the
build up and expansion of the MAAG in Vietnam. During this tour, he served
as an Advisor to the 31st Infantry Regiment, 21st Infantry Division in the
Mekong Delta at Bac Lieu (also known as Vinh Loi). After two days
orientation in Saigon, one day in Can Tho at Division Headquarters, and
then spending two days in Bac Lieu meeting his Vietnamese counterparts,
the next American he saw was three months later while passing back through
Returning from Vietnam, he was assigned to the Special Warfare Center as a
student, and then as Headquarters Company Commander, 6th Special Forces
Group. As the build up of Special Forces in Vietnam took place in 1964, he
was reassigned to Detachment B5/220 of the 5th Special Forces Group
pending deployment to Vietnam.
He joined the Detachment as the operations officer as it was preparing for
deployment. All the Detachment knew at the time was they would be involved
in classified cross border operations while in Vietnam. It was assumed
this meant North Vietnam and therefore he and several others spent a lot
of time reviewing classified information on North Vietnam available at
18th Airborne Corps. Little did they know, the cross border operations
referred to was in Laos (Leaping Lena).
The Detachment deployed to Vietnam on 27 November 1964 with an in country
date of 1 December 1964. Shortly after arriving in country, the Project
Delta's out of country operational mission was turned over to a newly
created organization, which became MACV-SOG.
Arriving in Nha Trang, the Detachment found the Project housed in a tent
city complex which, during the rainy season, could only be described as a
swimming pool of mud, not far from the 5th Group Headquarters. The initial
few weeks were spent transitioning with outgoing project personnel, many
of whom were TDY from the 1st Special Forces Group; fighting the weather;
getting climatized and up to speed on what the Project was all about. The
Detachment Commander was Major Art Strange and his XO was Captain Charles
On 1 January 2005, then Captain, Boulas, was admitted to the 8th Field
Hospital with malaria, anemia, and myocarditis. While in the hospital he
received the last rites from a Vietnamese Catholic Priest, who only spoke
Vietnamese and French. After surviving that battle, he was released from
the hospital on 18 February and went back to the Project.
During the time Len was hospitalized, Captain Thompson, the Detachment XO,
served as operations officer, and continued to do so once Captain Boulas
returned to the project. Len was assigned as the Assistant Operations
Officer, with a host of other activities meant solely to keep him out of
the field while he regained his health. These additional duties included
liaison and coordinator for the Vietnamese Air Force resources assigned to
the Project; Project R & D Officer, Rear Area Detachment Commander, when
the project deployed, liaison to MACV; and general trouble shooter when a
problem arose that needed solving.
1965 was an interesting time in Project Delta. It was a time which saw the
development and refinement of Long Range Reconnaissance tactics and
techniques, at that time, a somewhat lost art in the Army. It was a time
for building a permanent base camp at Nha Trang, A time for field testing
new military equipment, which included radios, claymore mines, weapons
silencers, various foreign weapons, 9MM rocket ammunition, oriental freeze
dried rations, extraction devices (McGuire Rig), geographical position
devices, and a whole host of others.
Project Delta developed a combined arms unity of command philosophy,
trained Army aviation resources to support special operations; Provisioned
Long Range Reconnaissance support to American Troop units entering the
country and trained personnel in Long Range Reconnaissance methods and
This period saw the change of Commanders from Art Strange, to Chargin'
Charlie Beckwith, and to Bo Baker when Beckwith was wounded in action.
When his tour was up, Len volunteered to stay and assist Captain Baker
during his transition as Project Commander.
Upon returning to the states, Captain Boulas was hospitalized at Walter
Reed with hepatitis. This hospitalization, coupled with his in country
extension, canceled his assignment to a CIA farm as a training officer.
Upon leaving the hospital he was reassigned as an Advisor to a Special
Forces National Guard Unit stationed in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was
here that he met his wife Toby. After this assignment, it was off to
Norway for three years to work in NATO; then to Korea for a year as an
Infantry Brigade XO. At the time, he was the youngest Brigade XO in the
Army. From Korea, he was assigned as Senior Army Advisor to the Army
Reserve in the State of Michigan, and as Senior Army Advisor to the 70th
Training Division Michigan Army National Guard.
Len Boulas retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1975 from
Fort Carson, Colorado. His military awards include the Ranger Tab, Master
Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star,
Meritorious Service Medal W/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, Vietnam Medal
Of Honor 1st Class, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Good Conduct Medal,
and a host of other Service Awards. He is a Defense Language School
graduate in Norwegian.
Upon retirement, he and his family settled in Thornton, Colorado, where he
went to work for the State of Colorado in the State Emergency Management
Agency. He served in a variety of positions there, to include that of
Agency Director. He was active in City government, Lions Clubs
International, and served as Education Foundation Board member during this
time. He retired from the State of Colorado in 2001.
In 2002, he and Toby relocated to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he
presently resides. Len is currently a widower, having lost his wife Toby
on Christmas day 2003, to cancer, after a year long battle. He has three
children, two sons and a daughter and five grandchildren, three boys and
two girls. Both sons currently live in Colorado and the daughter resides
in Kingwood, Texas, with her family.
Len currently teaches online courses in Emergency Management for a
Community College in Colorado. He is also the Chairman of a local
Department of Defense Committee, which provides support to National Guard
and Reserve members, their employers, and families. He continues to do
consulting across the country on Emergency Management issues, while taking
time to travel in his RV and spend time with his grand children.
Leonard Boulas Photo Collection