At 74, Leroy Lanxon found himself in dire straits.
The former Marine had just left the residence of his former girlfriend, with whom he had lived for more than eight years. Their relationship had been tumultuous, he said, and he realized that he was no longer happy there. He left all of his belongings behind.
“Everything disappeared,” he said.
And so Lanxon was starting all over again.
It was this past April. Lanxon wouldn’t find his own place to live until July 18, when he got set up with an apartment here in Fremont with the help of the northeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership. He called Mark Schneck, the Dodge County Veterans Service Officer, who, in these cases, will reach out to the Fremont Area Marine Corps League to provide additional assistance.
On the day that Lanxon moved in, six members of the Marine Corps League were there to help. Lanxon knew they’d be coming — but he didn’t know just quite how much help they’d be providing.
“Well it was wonderful. They did a lot of things that I never even thought about anybody doing, actually,” Lanxon said. “They came in and the next thing I knew, they were setting my TV up for me and they moved in a sofa and they set my bed up, did dishes and the whole works.”
The group came in around 6 p.m., Lanxon recalls. They left at around 8:30 p.m.
The Fremont Area Marine Corps League is a volunteer organization consisting of former Marines, corpsmen, Navy chaplains and more. The mission: “It’s just about Marines helping Marines,” says Commandant Jason House.
Lanxon is the second Marine struggling with homelessness that they’ve helped. The first was in January, when the group purchased a new bed, pillows, table, chairs and more for a veteran named Gerold Combs Jr.
“This will be our second homeless Marine that we’ve helped,” House said. “We don’t do it very often — which is a good thing.”
That’s because Fremont doesn’t typically struggle with an overwhelming number of homeless Marines, House said.
The Marine Corps League does other work, too.
They have a competitive scholarship to area high schools, and they also help provide other types of financial assistance for Marines — mortgage, rent utilities — “whatever we can” to help them survive, House said.
“The Marines, it’s a big brotherhood and sisterhood,” House said. “We care about each other and it’s just about taking care of each other.”
For Lanxon, his move-in day was an affirmation of that brotherhood.
Lanxon signed his service papers in 1961 and became an active service member in 1962. As a Marine, he was stationed in Okinawa, the Philippines and elsewhere.
He also said he was involved in the U.S. response to the tensions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“I spent 22 hours getting everything set up for it, got aboard a ship and went down through the Panama Canal over there,” Lanxon said.
House recalls Lanxon’s surprise at the extent of the help that he had received.
“He couldn’t believe it,” House said. “He was just in shock that he was getting this much help from everybody, from all of us.”
Lanxon, who is retired and who said he didn’t have the finances to support himself after he left his previous home, said that the actions of the Marine Corps League were a reminder of the close bonds that exist between Marines.
“It helps out,” he said. “Makes you look at life a lot differently, and you go ahead and you find out there’s a lot of good Marines out there that can help.”
That day inspired him so much, that he decided to take action.
“I went and I joined the league,” he said. “I told them flat out, I’ll be down to your next meeting and I would join, and I’ll help someone else.”
It wasn’t something that Lanxon had ever planned on doing.
“When they showed what they do, that inspired me to join, right then and there. I figured at that point, if they could help this Marine, I could help some other Marine,” he said. “We’re brothers, that’s the way I look at it.”