Maria Leonard was born in Mexico City, Mexico in March of 1924. Frustrated with lack of economic opportunities in her native Mexico, Maria emigrated to the United States when she was in her early 30s. In March 1957, Maria decided to serve her new country by enlisting in the Women's Army Corp (WAC). She soon found herself at Fort McClellan, Alabama, to receive basic training.
After basic training, Maria was trained as a medic and was sent to Europe where she served with a medical unit in Germany for several years.
Maria was later assigned to Fort Ord in California, in the same unit as Elvis Presley. “Yes, Elvis was working in the photography department,” she remembers. “I had the opportunity to meet him and talk with him.” While serving as a WAC, Maria met her future husband Ray, a veteran of both World War II and Korea. Together, Ray and Maria would have four children, Sandy, Ray, Frances, and Robert.
Maria was discharged in 1960, but she continued to serve her country as a Spanish instructor to military personnel at the Defense Language Institute. She later taught Spanish in public schools and at Hartwell College.
In the 1980s, several of Maria’s children relocated from California to Maine. In 1989, Maria also moved across the country to the Pine Tree State.
Thank You, Maria, for your service to our nation!
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