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Lt. Gen. Leroy Manor Recognized with Distinguished Alumni Award

More than 70 years have passed since Lt. Gen. Leroy Manor was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, which in 1940 was called the Plattsburgh Normal School.

In that time, his sacrifices and successes have earned him much recognition, including Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Legion of Merit Awards, Distinguished Flying Cross Awards, a Purple Heart and — most recently — a Distinguished Alumni Award from SUNY Plattsburgh.

The award was presented at a special dinner during SUNY Plattsburgh’s second annual Reunion weekend, this July. At the dinner, the 90-year-old discussed those achievements, remarking on his tours in Europe, where he served in the United States Air Corps, after leaving his teaching position at Beekmantown District No. 1 to join the military.

“The world situation changed,” he said. “It changed with Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. I decided then that I really should take part in what our country was facing.”

Manor became a P-47 fighter pilot during World War II and wound up flying in 72 combat missions— one of which was the Battle of Normandy.

During the Vietnam War, he received a Distinguished Medal of Honor from then-President Richard Nixon for commanding an operation to rescue prisoners of war at Son Tay in North Vietnam. The mission failed to retrieve the prisoners because they had been moved ahead of time, but it saw U.S. forces landing, facing an enemy force of around 350 men and escaping without any American fatalities. This story has been captured in a number of books.

Of Manor’s part in the mission, Nixon himself once remarked, “General Manor’s brilliant talents of command and supervision resulted in a superbly trained joint task force. The mission was daring in concept and bold in execution. … The singular efforts and outstanding achievement of General Manor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

Even after retiring, Manor continued to serve his country, representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander in chief Pacific as senior military negotiator and adviser to the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines for the Military Bases Agreement.

Manor said that he could not have done all of this if he had not been accepted into the Plattsburgh Normal School in 1937.

“If that hadn’t happened, I would not have gone to college,” he said. “The doors that were opened to me as a result of graduating from here would not have opened.”

Not only did he value the education he received, but he met “the love of my life, Delores,” he said.

The classmates wed Nov. 21, 1940, just after graduating.

Manor reflected on his time at the Plattsburgh Normal School, grateful for the education he received.

“I was looking through my copy of the Cardinal, the yearbook from 1940,” he said. “And I have a feeling of sadness as I look through that book. There are pictures of all the professors and staff members of the school that time. I wish that I could tell them, each one of them, how they have affected my life … the things I learned from each one of them.”

SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling calls Manor an astounding representative of SUNY Plattsburgh graduates.

“When Leroy Manor left Plattsburgh Normal School in 1940, he thought he would spend the rest of his life as a country school teacher,” Ettling said. “History, as it often does, intervened to change his plans. For the next three decades, Leroy was both an eyewitness and a participant in some of the most significant events of his time.”

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