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 Can Tho.

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 Thompson.

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 techniques.

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
 

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