Vietnam veteran mentors law enforcement explorers at Fort Leonard Wood
August 21, 2013
- Veteran feature story
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Aug. 20, 2013) -- A Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Army Military Police Soldier passed on corps' knowledge to youths during the 2013 National Law Enforcement Explorer Academy at Fort Leonard Wood.
Bob Clement, who enlisted in the Army in 1963, served two tours in Vietnam, and was stationed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
More than 40 years later, Clement rekindled his MP roots by passing on his experience and serving as lead adviser for 29 law enforcement explorers during the National Law Enforcement Explorer Academy held at Fort Leonard Wood. Explorers, ages 16-20, attended this year's academy, hosted by the U.S. Army Military Police School, July 13-20.
"This is like handing the baton down," said Clement. "A large percentage of these kids will go into law enforcement."
"They get to see leadership in action at different stages from where they are, to basic trainees, to drill sergeants and lieutenants," he said. "They start to understand the difference."
Clement said he enjoys the program, because it keeps him feeling younger and gives him an opportunity to guide young people.
"The program instills pride," he said. "Explorers learn leadership, teamwork and how to push themselves to do things they thought they couldn't do."
Most advisers for the law enforcement explorer program are employed in law enforcement and volunteer to participate through their employer. Since he is a retired law enforcement officer, Clement makes the trip on his own.
"I attend on my own and consider it a vacation," he said. "What better vacation than sleeping on an Army bunk? As long as I am healthy enough to do it, I'll be out here. I look forward to coming out to Fort Leonard Wood in another two years."
Clement said he hopes his story inspires others.
"If older people read about doing things with the younger generation, maybe they will start doing something too," said Clement.
Clement left the Army in 1970 and accepted a job in federal law enforcement with the original "Sky Marshals" program, which placed armed officers, dressed as passengers, on aircraft to prevent hijacking. At the time, it was referred to as the Customs Air Security Officers Program.
Clement said he has always been involved in some aspect of law enforcement and has been working with the Law Enforcement Exploring Program since 1988.
Currently, Clement serves on the Board of Directors for the Nassau County Police Department and is on the Program Committee for the New York Police Department Explorer Program.