Marine Continues Family Military Legacy

Published 01/15 2014 02:50PM

Updated 01/16 2014 11:43AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Frank Leone says he's never been surprised that his son Vincent became a Marine.

"Vinnie has always been military bound.  It's been his goal since he was a small child," Leone said.

Lance Corporal Vincent Leone has dreamed of a life in the service since he was in third grade.

And he packed his bag for training shortly after graduating Central High School.

"He's always said he wanted to see the world, and this is the way to do that," Frank said.

The younger Leone made his way into the 5th Infantry 2nd Marines - The 2/5 - and is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

Leone is infantry, and would fight on the front lines if needed.

"He's not the first one, but he's pretty close," his father said.  "[Vinnie is] the one that kind of clears the way for the rest of them."

The reason why Vincent was so eager to enlist comes from his grandfather, his mother Peggy's father.

His grandfather is the late Lieutenant Colonel Frank Flesher, a decorated Vietnam veteran who founded the National Military Heritage Museum in St. Joseph in 1989.

The military was Flesher's life, and he instilled its values in his grandson.

"Vinnie would volunteer down at the museum with Grandpa," Leone remembers.  "Veterans Day was huge; they'd march.  Grandpa had Jeeps and helicopters and stuff he could play in.  That was always part of his upbringing."

And in the summer of 2012, when Vinnie Leone graduated from his basic training, Grandpa was there, proud to see his grandson carry on the family's military heritage.

"You've never seen a man more proud," Vinnie's father said.  "It was just unbelievable.  Frank was there.  He was saluting the flag as it went up.  Then as Vinnie graduated, he hugged him the way a father would hug a son.  His mother was in tears.  That gives you an idea of what everyone was feeling."

Frank Leone says he knows his son could be on the front lines, but is also proud knowing that Vinnie does what he loves and is doing what he always said he'd do.

Frank Flesher passed away in January 2013, just a few months after his trip to California to see his grandson make his entrance into the United States Marine Corps official.

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