Portland District employees share their military memories (#3)

Leisha Leyson, Civilian Personnel Advisory Center

Photo Provided by Leisha LeysonBranch, years served?Photo Provided by Leisha Leyson
U.S. Army, 21 years (Retired from the National Guard, with 8 years of active duty)

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I decided to enlist in the Army National Guard to serve my country, earn some extra money and have my student loans paid off.

What about your service makes you most proud?
What makes me most proud – 21 years of service in the Oregon Army National Guard and especially the eight years of active duty I did with the National Guard. Along with the years of service, I am proud of the work I did and the leadership positions I held.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory is Combat Medics School.  The field training in particular was one of the greatest challenges of my career.


Daniel Lundy, Hydroelectric Design Center

Photo Provided by Daniel LundyBranch, years served?Photo Provided by Daniel Lundy
U.S. Army, 1998-2002.‎
MOS 45E. M1A2 Abrams Tank ‎Turret Mechanic.

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I chose to serve because of a desire to serve my country.  Not only did it feel like the honorable and right thing to do after graduating high school, it continued a family tradition: I was thethird generation in my family to serve.

What about your service makes you most proud?
What makes me most proud about my service is that I volunteered to serve;  and that I was a member of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) that helped with the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo.

What is your favorite memory?‎
I have two memories.
a. The first is job-related. ‎As an Abrams tank mechanic I typically only got to fix the broken tank, but did not get to operate in combat simulation. At one gunnery exercise at Fort Hood I was lucky enough to drive a tank and fire a sabot round. It was exhilarating!‎ Especially driving the 70-ton beast!
b. The second would not be considered a “favorite” memory but more like a vivid memory. While on a training exercise at Fort Hood I vividly remember getting a phone call early in the morning from my then-fiancé (now wife) to turn on ‎the radio, an airplane had just struck a sky scraper in New York City. Others in my unit were receiving similar phone calls at the same time. Within minutes one of the tank commanders had set up a small black and white portable TV with antennae, placed it on the front fender of the tank, and we gathered around it to watch and listen to the breaking news. Like many others in the country, as we watched we saw live the second plane hit the twin towers. At that moment we knew our lives were going to change, we talked about it and speculated who would do this.  I remember feeling sadness then anger and frustration. The training exercise that was scheduled for several days in the field ended that day.  We returned to the motor pool and waited for orders. It was a feeling and experience I will never forget.


Alexi McPherren, Project Management and Planning Division

Alexi McPherren, PM-P

Photo Provided by Alexi McPherrenName, branch, years served?Photo Provided by Alexi McPherren
U.S. Air Force 5 years on active duty, 2000-2005

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I joined the Air Force as a young mother to provide a better life for my daughter.

What about your service makes you most proud?
I was able to see another side of our country and to help protect our freedom

What is your favorite memory?
I worked with the B-1 bombers and during Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom and we did a lot of close air support missions. To see the reaction of our troops on the ground when our bombers flew in low to help out was amazing and saved many lives.


Steve Miles, Hydroelectric Design Center

Photo Provided by Steve MilesName, branch, years served?Photo Provided by Steve Miles
U.S. Army, 1985-2011.

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I chose active military service ‎because I wanted to serve and protect my country, I felt very honored to be in the profession of arms for the greatest country on earth.    I truly believe in the saying “freedom isn’t free” and I wanted to pay my debt forward through military service for what my family and I enjoy everyday today, freedom and happiness.  Like COL Aguilar, I also met my wife, Laura, in the Army in Germany, another blessing I am constantly grateful for.

What about your service makes you most proud?
I am most proud of what Army Engineers do for the Nation, both at home and abroad. I love our nation-building principles and helping other nations advance their societies   ‎I feel honored to have had served in the same U.S. Army as those who fought in the Korean War and both WWI and WWII.    They are the Greatest Generation and our country and Army were built on their shoulders.   Much of my pride comes from their ethos and ‎warrior spirit.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory is how the country bonded together after 9-11.  We were attacked – the fight was brought to us. It was a terrible tragedy, yet we demonstrated resounding strength and unity; to see and be a part of our military ‎response from 2001 to 2011, is something that is very memorable and brings great pride to me. I am hopeful our country will remain strong and able to defend itself in this very dangerous world.   We veterans are very appreciative of the unconditional support you rendered to our Soldiers during the past decade. During the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we learned as a Nation how to separate policy from our support of the individual Soldiers.    Our Vietnam veterans deserve a special appreciation and gratitude for all they have endured. Thank You.


LTC Shawn Patrick, Executive Office

Branch, years served?
Engineer, U.S. Army, 1998-present

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I serve to protect and defend the freedoms that Constitution provides, to serve the people of this great Nation and to continue a long history of family service to the Nation.

What about your service makes you most proud?
I am most proud of the camaraderie and sense of family that service to the Nation has provided to me, my family and all of the men and women who serve in the ranks of the Nation’s defense forces.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was the feeling I had when I returned to U.S. soil after serving 13 months of combat for the first time. There truly is no feeling like kissing the very soil you and your team have spent human capital in defending  the colors are brighter, the air is crisper and the sense of pride is overwhelming.


Kristin Powers, Engineering and Construction Division

Photo Provided by Kristin PowersBranch, years served?Photo Provided by Kristin Powers
U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division, served May 2000 – June 2004 (4 years)

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I joined the service right out of high school.  I knew I wasn’t yet ready for college, so I thought some kind of public service might be a better fit. I wanted to serve a higher cause, as well as obtain skills which I could take into the private sector.

What about your service makes you most proud?
My fellow soldiers make me the most proud. I served during a particularly difficult transition time for the military: 9/11 happened a little after I had a year in service. The Army changed overnight, and we had to really come together as a team and as a unit to power through it. I am most proud to have served with such an amazing and resilient group of people.

What is your favorite memory?
A Blackhawk parachute jump over a Sicily drop zone at 1,000 feet, on a beautiful, clear, sunny day with no wind. It was a “fun jump” – no crazy hurry up and wait.  Eight of us went up, sitting on the edge of the door; a tap on the helmet and we just dropped right out. Best jump I ever experienced!


Christopher Ritzau, Office of Counsel

Photo Provided by Christopher RitzauBranch, years served?Photo Provided by Christopher Ritzau
U.S. Navy, 1993-1997
(Joint Intelligence Center Pacific – Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i).

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
See the world, serve my country and access education benefits.

What about your service makes you most proud?
Met individuals from around the world, learned a new trade, worked with service members from every branch of the military and was honored to serve my country.

What is your favorite memory?
Humanitarian trip to Pago Pago, American Samoa, aboard the U.S.S. Frederick (LST-1184).


Tressa (Eden) Rivera, Operations DivisionPhoto Provided by Tressa Rivera

Branch, years served?
US Army and US Army Reserves, 16 years total service

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I chose to serve in the military because I grew up on my grandfathers and father’s accounts of their service during in the Korea and Vietnam Era, and was always fascinated with their ability to work and travel around the world and the pride they had in everything–their uniforms, their mission, their patriotism.  I took four years of JROTC in High School, then went to College.  At the end of my freshman year, I realized I wanted to see more than Omaha, NE, so I enlisted in the Army in the summer of 1994 as a Reservist.  I eventually changed my enlistment from Reserves to Active Duty, and went to South Korea.  Within the 6 years I was on Active Duty, I was stationed in Korea, Fort Knox, KY, Redstone Arsenal, AL, Taszar, Hungary, Heidelberg, Germany, and Atlanta, GA, where I became a US Army Recruiter.  I finished up my career as a Staff Sergeant and served 16 awesome years in the best Army in the World.

What about your service makes you most proud?
My proudest moment was being able to conquer my fear of heights in Air Assault School and also giving my best friend her first salute as a Commissioned Officer at her commissioning ceremony.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was becoming a Non-Commissioned Officer.  I was in a Military Occupational Specialist that was very difficult to make Sergeant in, so when I finally made the cutoff scores, I cried at my ceremony because I was not only joining the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Corps, I was also fulfilling a tradition of NCO’s in my family that spans 3 generations.


Larry Suppan, Hydroelectric Design Center

Photo provided by Larry SuppanBranch, years served?Photo provided by Larry Suppan
U.S. Navy (6 years) and U.S. Coast Guard Reserves (5 years)

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
I graduated from El Camino High School in Woodland Hills, CA with no occupational plans. I was open and only planning to attend a community college to figure out what I wanted to do. A friend wanted to go into a Navy recruiting office. I went with him and ended up in the delayed entry program.

What about your service makes you most proud?
Working hard as a crew to operate and maintain our boat at the highest level earning the Battle E or the Engineering E as I liked to call it.

What is your favorite memory?
Finally making it through all of the training and traveling to my first boat (submarine) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. I would be spending 1 year in an overhaul in Kittery Maine. Seeing the boat with part of the hull cut out as they changed out a motor generator, I soon realized this boat would be sewn up and sent out with me on it. The adventure had begun.


Holly B. Washburn, Project Management and Planning Division

Photo Provided by Holly WashburnBranch, years served?
U.S. Army, 1997-2005

Why did you choose to serve in the U.S. military?
In every generation, a Washburn has served in the military. I wanted to and knew I would join at an early age. I had ambitions of being an MP (Game Warden or K-9 officer), but ended up being in mostly combat support units.

What about your service makes you most proud?
I am most proud of the relationships that developed during my time in the Army. These brothers and sisters are amazing men and women. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.

What is your favorite memory?
For humor I would have to say the day I got out. But on a serious note, my favorite memories would be the moments when I realized that it’s a small world after all. It didn’t matter how far away from my hometown I was, I always managed to find someone who could be tied to Crystal River, Florida.

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