Honoring Colonel David Arthur Lerps, Usmc (Ret)by Representative Janice D. Schakowsky
Posted on 2015-01-21
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Colonel David Arthur
Lerps, USMC (RET), who died on October 21, 2014 after a long and
valiant struggle with Parkinson's disease, and his career of service to
Born in Chicago, Illinois on June 28, 1931, he spent his early years in Eastchester, New York and was an honors graduate of Duke University where he was Commandant of the Naval Battalion and participated in every sport, winning distinction as quarterback of the 1954 Blue Demons Football Team. His flight training at NAS Pensacola prepared him for many years in the Marine Air Wing. During his 30-year military career, he served three tours in Japan and flew 312 missions in Vietnam in 1968, where he was awarded 23 Air Medals and nominated for a Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in an especially dangerous mission to the DMZ.
He later served in strategic planning at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC; was both student and teacher at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College; and attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces while gaining his MBA at George Washington University. He concluded his active duty as Chief of Staff, LFTC Pacific Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado.
Upon retiring from active duty in 1984, he was appointed Chief of Staff at the Academy of the Pacific, a post he held for 18 years. After retiring from AOP, he became a student once again, studying Shakespeare and music at the University of Hawaii.
Col. Lerps was a board member of Hawaii Opera Theater and member of the Hawaii Wagner Society. He was an ardent ocean canoe paddler, a board member of the Lanikai Canoe Club and coordinator of the Duke Kahanamoku Long Distance Canoe Race for four years.
Even with the decline in mobility and speech and the loss of the ability to swallow, he never lost his deep love for opera, sports, for his family, Catholic faith and Marine Corps. As life-long friend John Schwarz wrote, ``Dave never really left the Corps . . . `once a Marine always a Marine.' He was `SEMPER Fl,' a Marine to his final breath!'' Dave is survived by Mary, his wife of 55 years, his children Kathy Lerps, Karen Pittman, Robert Lerps, six grandchildren: Vito and Dylan Higgins, Ashley Snow, Amber Lerps, Kylie and Kassidy Barker; and a sister Ann Falkenberg and brother Kurt Lerps. I learned of Col. Lerps' life of service from his brother-in-law and my good friend Father Robert Oldershaw.