History project captures veteran’s war experience with just hours to spare


Reynaldo Lebron earned several medals for his service during World War II.

Courtesy of the Lebron family

A narrative of the war experiences of Reynaldo Lebron recorded just hours before his death, left his family details of his previously untold history to be preserved for generations.

“It’s incredible how this whole thing came together,” Lebron’s son Ken Lebron said. “It will always be cherished.”

The recording came about when Donn Weaver, an Army veteran and coordinator of special projects for the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center, visited Lebron to record his war memories.

“I put on his hat on him and saluted him,” Weaver said.

Weaver recorded Lebron’s account and added information that will go to the Library of Congress and a copy archived at the Veterans Memorial Center on Merritt Island.

“I could tell that he was not feeling that well,” Weaver said.

Lebron died Dec. 6 at age 94, about four hours after the video recording of his experiences in World War II.

Lebron told of when he was wounded, picked up and put in a truck with bodies of other soldiers because he was thought to be dead.

“His buddy said, ‘we’re not leaving him,’ ” Ken Lebron said.

Then the recovery crew saw him moving.

Lebron served as a combat medic with the Army’s 26th Infantry Division. His platoon was in a forested area in northern France when they were hit by mortars that killed several soldiers and severely wounded Lebron.

He was treated in France for four or five months before being taken to Utica, New York for further treatment and more than a dozen surgeries.

“For about eight years, he was in and out of the hospital,” Ken Lebron said. “It took a long time before he would talk about his experiences. It wasn’t an easy story for him to tell.”

Lebron told some of his story a few years ago when he was awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal Order of Knight in recognition of his heroic sacrifice in fighting for the liberation of France.

He also earned the Bronze Star, the Combat Medic Badge and the Purple Heart among other medals.

“He was very, very humble,” daughter-in-law Patty Lebron said. “He never saw himself in that way (as a hero). A friend told us stories about him that we did not know.”

The Lebrons said people would often come up to her father-in-law and thank him for his military service.

“I’m grateful my son got to see that,” Patty Lebron said of their son, Keenan, 31.

Ken Lebron said he was grateful that just weeks before he died, his father was able to share his experiences with about 40 family members at a Thanksgiving Day gathering.

“He saw just about every family member he knew and loved,” he said.