Former Vietnam War veteran, career civil servant, Jerry Laney is no stranger to life on and around military installations.
Laney, who was the Voluntary Protection Program coordinator for Command, Control, Communica-tions and Computers Department, Marine Corps Logistics Command, retired from federal service March 27. His honorable military and civil service careers have spanned more than 28 years.
Laney, who began his early education in Japan, graduated high school in Germany.
The son of an Army master sergeant and nephew to an Army lieutenant colonel, Laney is a name, which is synonymous with the U. S. military and service to this country. As such, in the presence of his father, then-Army Master Sgt. Chuck Laney, Jerry was sworn into the U. S. Army by his uncle, then-Army pilot, Lt. Col. Ike Laney, which began his military career.
Following in his father's footsteps and the service to which he was accustomed, after graduation, he signed up for a four-year tour of duty in the U. S. Army, originally for warrant officer flight school.
In a unique turn of events, while still at the induction center, Laney was pulled into a private office by a sergeant. When he emerged, rather than a candidate for warrant officer flight school, he had signed up for four years with the Army Security Agency and served two tours in Vietnam.
Laney was one of the few Airborne Radio Direction Finders operators and was one of more than 1,000 men who pioneered the introduction of Special Electronic Mission Aircraft to the battlefield.
During his four-year military career, Laney earned a number of citations and service medals. However, according to Laney and several of his friends and colleagues, what he is most proud of is the book, which was recently published, "Unlikely Warrior - the Army Security Agency Secret War in Vietnam 1961 - 1973." In the book, there are pictures of Laney as well as a quote by him.
Ending his military service in 1989, Laney transitioned into a civilian-Marine career at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in the Travel Voucher Certification Division.
In the mid-90s, he became a supply clerk cataloger. When the Cataloging Branch moved to Battle Creek, Mich., Laney transferred to LOGCOM C4 in December 2003. Over the years, he worked with the command's video teleconference capability, maintained LOGCOM's website, and in his final responsibilities with C4, he served as the safety coordinator, supporting the command’s efforts to become a Voluntary Protection Program Star Site.
In their farewell to the man who sacrificed much in service to his country, colleagues honored Laney's contributions to country, base and community.
Lt. Col. George Lampkin, operations officer, C4, LOGCOM, offered his portrayal of Laney’s character.
“Although I have known Mr. Laney for a short period of time, I am happy to say that it was both an honor and pleasure to work with him,” Lampkin said. “His upbeat nature and willingness to be (a) positive benefit wherever needed, coupled with his unceasing humility and moral integrity are characterisics that come to mind.”
Lampkin concluded, “What also comes to mind is (Mr. Laney’s) unfailing sense of duty. That sense stands in striking clarity when we look back to his service in the Army during the Vietnam War, along with his 28-plus years of government service. Those accomplishments alone warrant the recognition he has received during his retirement ceremony and demand the thanks of a grateful Corps and nation.”
Laney’s friends and coworkers continued their tribute to the retiree.
"I've known Jerry for about four years and during that time he and I have been lunch partners, devoted friends and co-workers," John Barfield, information technology specialist, C4 Customer Service Center, LOGCOM, said. "(He) is always ready to lend a helping hand, and he always has a smile and a kind word to brighten your day. His hobby was his B-model 1932 Ford. We'll miss him, but wish him the best of luck on the next phase of his life."
Other colleagues echoed comments and sentiments for Laney’s service to the installation.
"I really enjoyed working with Jerry," Kay Bracknell, secretary, C4, LOGCOM, said. "He was very knowledgeable in the safety world and was instrumental in keeping coworkers up-to-date and legal in the workplace. He was always whistling; always happy about life. He loves the lake where he lives and spending time with his family. I will definitely miss him."
Master Gunnery Sgt. Brent L. Dorrough, C4 operations chief, LOGCOM, said he remembered Laney giving weekly safety briefs, and because he was so diligent in that capacity, he had no knowledge that Laney had an information technology background.
"Actually, I didn't know that he had an (information technology) background," Dorrough said. "I thought that he was a safety (representative) assigned to C4. That is just how serious he was about the tasks assigned to him."
Dorrough concluded his reflections on Laney's attributes and spoke about his personal interest outside of his work on the installation.
"I can also say that I was fascinated and impressed when I read Jerry's bio," Dorrough continued. "He didn't harp on all that he had done in (his) field or within C4. He spoke more about his service in Vietnam and in the local community. Jerry was involved in so many things, from Native American Powwows to playing softball with President Jimmy Carter. You could sit down with Jerry for five minutes and see a man (who) genuinely cared about his country, his state, his community, his family, his career and his co-workers. That's what I will remember about Jerry. He'll be missed."
According to Dorrough, Laney's philosophy and his parting words to his retirement attendees were: "Listen carefully, and listen with your heart."