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National Commander hails from B'ville

George Le Porte has devoted his life to veterans.

Recently elected the National Commander of the Italian American War Veterans of the United States, Le Porte continues that dedication.

"I always felt all my energy should go to helping disabled vets," he said.

Le Porte joined the United States Navy in 1949 and served from 1950 to 1954 during the Korean conflict. He first served on the aircraft carrier Coral Sea - CVB 43. One of his most memorable experiences while in the service was as a liaison interpreter, a position which took him to France, Italy, Sicily, Spain, Portugal and Yugoslavia when the United States was trying to convince Marshall Tito not to align himself with the Soviet Union.

In 1954, Le Porte was injured while in service and spent six months in Philadelphia Naval Hospital before being discharged. Because he was on active duty, Le Porte is unable to disclose how he was injured. He was rated 50 percent disabled.

"A lot of good people looked after me," Le Porte said.

Since then, Le Porte has served Congressman James Walsh as Chairman of the Congressman's Veterans Advisory Committee, logged in more than 5,000 volunteer hours at the VA Medical Center in Syracuse and named Onondaga County Veteran of the Year in 2000 among other notables.

"I've been a vet advocate for the last 40 years," he said. "I have a lot of experience primarily with disabled veterans."

Because Le Porte was focused on his work with the Disabled American Veterans, his initial involvement with the IAWV was minimal.

"You don't just join to join, you become active," Le Porte said. "However, at first I did just join (IAWV) and did nothing. When the group became troubled because it lacked officials, then I got involved. First I became the Commander of Post, then Commander of State and now National Commander."

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