2017-09-21 / Front Page

Bill Leopard honored with vacation trip to Fripp Island by Dreams for Veterans

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor


Bill and Brenda Leopard were joined by his social worker Shawn Busby with Regional Hospice and of­ficials with the Dreams for Veterans program as he was awarded an all-expenses-paid vacation to Fripp Island, S.C., and honored as a recipient for his service in the army. Bill and Brenda Leopard were joined by his social worker Shawn Busby with Regional Hospice and of­ficials with the Dreams for Veterans program as he was awarded an all-expenses-paid vacation to Fripp Island, S.C., and honored as a recipient for his service in the army. Army Veteran Bill Leopard had the surprise of his life as he was the recipient of a trip to Fripp Island, S.C., when he was selected for the Dreams for Veterans program – an organization that sets to honor the last wishes of United States Veterans.

“That is the most surprised I’ve ever been, and the biggest honor I’ve ever had,” Leopard said. “I hadn’t heard of the Dreams for Veterans before, so I just thought, my Lord, they’ve been thinking about me for 50 years now.”

Born in 1940, Leopard joined the army reserve at the age of 18, and was in the military for eight years – serving on active duty until 1965.


Army veteran Bill Leopard, joined by his wife Brenda, was honored with a special vacation to Fripp Island, S.C., after being selected for the Dreams for Veterans program. Army veteran Bill Leopard, joined by his wife Brenda, was honored with a special vacation to Fripp Island, S.C., after being selected for the Dreams for Veterans program. Having the good fortune of serv­ing in times of peace, Leopard was sent to Germany from 1961-1962. Working in administration, he was in Bamberg with the 3rd Infantry Division and Fulda with the 14th Armored Calvary.

Thinking fondly on his time there, Leopard expressed that his heart truly lies with the German people and the many friendships that he made while there.

“Germany was a great place to be at that time. We were well-re­spected by people there, they were really nice, and we just enjoyed that. I hated being away from home for two years, so you really need all the friends you can get when you’re away like that,” he said. “It’s the experience of a lifetime. I was glad to get back home, but I really had become a German be­ing there so long. Those were very special places.”

Chuckling, he even reminisced on the times he and his army counterparts smuggled alcohol and cigarettes into the local pubs. Paying the night’s barkeep an easy $20 for a setup, Leopard depicted a lively nightlife of American and German camaraderie.

“If we showed up, so would the German young people,” Leopard said.

To this day, he actively encour­ages others to visit the country.

Leopard was recommended to the Dreams for Veterans program in secret by his social worker Shawn Busby with Regency Hos­pice care.

“She would casually ask us ques­tions about vacations, like where we liked to go, what we liked to do, that type of thing,” Leopard’s wife Brenda explained. “She finally told us that she wanted to offer us up for the ‘Dream Vacation’ – We were so shocked so I just said ‘why us?’ and she said, ‘why not y’all?’”

“We couldn’t believe it,” she said.

At no small gesture, the criteria to become a “Dream Recipient” is of the highest standards. It is open to U.S. military veterans who served from World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, those who served during peacetime, or who currently serve on active duty, the Reserve, and National Guard.

Dreams for Veterans, a part of the Dream Foundation in Cali­fornia, honors veterans’ service by fulfilling their final dream by providing them, their families, and caregivers inspiration, comfort, and closure at the end of life.

Leopard was visited person­ally by officials with the program and awarded with a package and special medallion for his service. Almost speechless, Leopard re­marked, “It’s been 50 years since I got my last medals and here they came giving me a medallion.”

As a recipient, Leopard was pro­vided an all-expenses-paid trip to Fripp Island, a location they picked due to logistical reasons circulating around his dialysis treatments.

However, Leopard remarked that he thinks of Fripp fondly, having visited its sandy beaches for over 40 years, and returning to its shores was very special to him.

“It’s an honor, but a lot more veterans could be selected, so for me to be selected out of millions of veterans is very humbling,” Leop­ard said. “I’m just fortunate to be selected, because I never dreamed of such a thing.

“What a lot of these men went through just for us to be where we are today is just phenomenal. For me to make it through life when all of these others did not and they’re now laying in their graves – those are your real heroes. The very least we can do now is display the flag proudly and salute them for their service,” he said.

Leopard and his wife Brenda, a Lincoln County native, have three children, Chris Leopard and his wife Bkay, Lisa Fearneyhough and her husband Lance, and Paula Henderson and her husband Brian, along with several grandchildren.

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