Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 22, 2014
Powers honored at REMEMBER ME celebration
Leslie Powers served in both World War II and the Korean War. Powers had a military career that spanned more than three decades. Now a resident of the Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle, Maine, he received the lifetime achievement award in April 2014.
On April 11, Island Nursing Home resident Leslie “Les” Powers was honored at the Maine Health Care Association’s REMEMBER ME celebration at the State House in Augusta. Powers was one of 33 Maine residents to receive a lifetime achievement award. Nominated by INH staff, Powers has been honored for service to community, state, and country.
According to information provided by Island Nursing Home, Command Sergeant Major Leslie Powers was born in Battle Creek, Mich., and grew up in Gary, Ind. After graduating from high school in 1942, he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17, beginning a career that would span three decades.
During World War II, he was an engineer and built bridges. He was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained when a truck he was operating hit a roadside bomb, killing his companion. Powers was rescued from the wreckage two days later, and as a result of the accident, suffered from headaches all his life.
In 1945, Powers was among the first foot soldiers to enter the infamous concentration camp Dachau. He witnessed firsthand the horrible conditions of the survivors and their retribution against their captors. He would not speak of this experience for many years afterward.
While working as Security Police at a German relocation camp, he encountered a young girl crying by the side of the road. She explained that her father had just died and she wanted to go home. Though it was against regulations, Powers kindly offered to drive her in the Army jeep. The young girl’s name was Anna. Les was very charmed by Anna and soon found himself visiting frequently with her and her mother.
Powers returned to the United States after the war and tried his hand at civilian life. He worked as a draughtsman and more colorfully as a card dealer for the Irish mob in Chicago, but Anna remained ever present in his mind. He re-enlisted in the Army and returned to Germany, where he and Anna were married in Munich in 1951. Together they raised two children, Edward and Sandra. Edward followed his father’s path and enlisted in the Army, where Les had the joy of pinning officer bars on his son’s uniform. Sadly, Edward, who was a helicopter pilot, died in Vietnam in 1969.
Powers continued his military career, serving in the Korean War, and afterward was assigned a command position at Fort Knox. Along with Anna, he volunteered with the American Red Cross for 29 years. Never one to be idle, he took a position as a janitor at a military school after his retirement.
Les and Anna’s love story continues on in their sixth decade together. When a decline in health resulted in Les moving permanently to long-term care at Island Nursing Home, Anna moved into the residential care section of the facility so she could be with him. They spend every day together, and their daughter Sandra is a frequent visitor.