Beacon Field Airport®

THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE for BEACON FIELD AIRPORT®



Elevation 249 feet, Fairfax County, Virginia          GPS 38 46'20.40"N :  77 4'54.07"W
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Beacon Flier Salute !

 

Mr. Waldron E. Leonard

July 1944, Colonel Waldron Leonard (pointing) stands with other PDVFD officers {courtesy Civilian Front, 7/22/1944}

Mr. Waldron E. Leonard was a  widely recognized and very respected local Fairview Drive resident and a tremendous friend to Beacon Field Airport.  He was involved in many civic activities and was a lifelong champion for veteran affairs.

Known by many as “Colonel” Leonard, he once joked with a Washington Post reporter that he had three honorary titles of “Colonel”.(1)   Originally from West Virginia and following his service in World War I, he landed in the great state of Texas.    There he worked for Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, first female Governor of Texas, who appointed him state service officer and Lieutenant Colonel on her staff.   He also had the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas National Guard.


One of Colonel Leonard's children, Laura Leonard, enjoying watermelon {courtesy Washington Post}

Colonel Leonard and his wife began hosting large Fourth of July picnics in their Fairview Drive backyard in 1941. (2)  Attended by nearly 400 guests, including many veterans and their wives,  the Leonard’s legendary parties became annual headline material in the Washington Post.    

“Frolic on the Fourth” and “Veterans Celebrate Leonards’ 25th”  were two articles that described in detail the events which included all you can eat food, badminton, horse shoes, and swimming at the four acre residence. (3)    Leonard explained to the Post reporter that this was “one of those you-all-come things with no RSVP necessary”.(4)   


Mr. Leonard’s great contributions to the Beacon community are still visible today.   He was the driving force behind the establishment of the much needed Penn Daw Volunteer Fire Department, the first fire company in the Beacon Hill area and initiated the fund raising (weekly bingo, horse shows, carnivals), site selection, and organization efforts.(5)  Most of the events were hosted by Beacon Field.   In November 1943, the Washington Post reported that 2,000 people attended the 1st annual horse show at Beacon Field Airport® to benefit the Penn Daw Fire Department.(6)      


After achieving the success of the PDVFD,  Colonel Leonard was asked to chair Fairfax County’s 1944 War Fund Campaign of the Red Cross.   The War Fund supported many community services including emergency relief and rehabilitation, health departments, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, and home nursing services.    At the time he was employed by the Solid Fuels Administration for War but managed to surpass fund drive expectations throughout the county.

His charismatic personality, strong leadership, and commitment to improving and gaining awareness for veteran affairs, led to a 20 year career with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the District of Columbia retiring as its Director in 1965.(6)   This position also held the title “Colonel” and commanded mandatory presence and photographic recognition as the Commanding Officer of 9th Division of the Armed Forces at the 1953 Presidential Inaugural Parade for Dwight D. Eisenhower.(7)


Colonel Leonard continued to work tirelessly to raise awareness of challenges facing returning veterans. He was instrumental in replacing the woefully small Mt. Alto veterans hospital in Glover Park with a newer 700 bed facility (Irving St NW).

In 1961, he briefed newly elected President John F. Kennedy on the state of veteran affairs focusing on the shortage of jobs, training, housing, education and medical treatment.


March 9, 1961 Colonel Waldron E Leonard (far left) and other WWI vets meet with President John F. Kennedy (courtesy Abbie Rowe, White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston}