Lenard J. Disney, one of six children from a poor farm family in Mayetta, Kan., served in the Marine Corps from 1955-76.
After being stationed in Washington, D.C., for four years, he was transferred to Indianapolis and married Susan M. Sears in 1963. He then spent four years in a recruiting position.
Disney, 81, was deployed to Vietnam in 1966 and was exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical that was used to kill all foliage so the enemies wouldn’t have any place to hide. He was subsequently cared for on the hospital ships USS Sanctuary and Repose before being medivacked to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia; he stayed there for nine months and then retired in 1976 as a gunnery sergeant.
“I was declared 100 percent disabled from being exposed to Agent Orange,” Disney said. “I later developed prostate cancer and had a heart attack in 2006. That Agent Orange eats away at you forever, and the disease-causing agent can be passed down through your genes.”
He works out at Baxter YMCA three or four days a week to keep his strength up from the long-term debilitating effects of the defoliant chemical.
After Vietnam he went to college and earned an associate degree in machine tool technology. “Then I worked in the food department at Perry Township Schools for 25 years, and I worked part time at Lowe’s for 16 years.
He and his wife have two children, Gregory A. Disney and Michele L. Disney (Robert) Morarity, both of whom went to Southport High School. The Disneys also have two grandchildren, Tyler and Courtney Morarity.
Disney was a recent member of the Indy Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with 89 other veterans and their guardians.
“It was great,” said Disney. “Everything was beautiful, and I got to see the World War II and Vietnam War monuments and Arlington National Cemetery. My guardian, Jim Hall, was really nice. He was a corporal in the Marine Corps, and he is employed by Allison Transmission.”