Alex was dedicated to the Marine Corps
and his Country
San Antonio, TX – An adventurous young man who joined the Marine Corps before graduating from high school, Leroy Calvin Alex Jr. never lost the patriotism that propelled him to serve in the military.
Losing a leg and two fingers in combat in Vietnam in the late 1960s, Alex wanted to be allowed to continue serving his country.
“They were going to release him from the Marine Corps, but he fought it,” his sister Valerie Arreguin said. “He loved the Marines, loved everything about it.”
Alex, who received two Purple Heart medals and a Bronze Star Medal for Valor, among other awards and citations, died Nov. 21 at 68.
The oldest of seven children raised in the Southeast Side of San Antonio, Alex showed early promise as a salesman.
“He worked for Watkins (Products) selling door-to-door, was good at what he did,” Arreguin said. “He could sell to anybody.”
Even so, he was restless.
“At 16 he ran away from home, hitchhiked to New York,” his sister Sherry Sublousky said. “He was gone for a week.”
Another time, Alex hitchhiked to California.
He was attending Brackenridge High School when he decided to join the Marine Corps.
“My mother kept telling him he didn’t want to do that,” Arreguin said. But “Junior was always one of those who wanted to do his own thing.”
Sublousky, still a young girl at the time, and never forgot the day the family was notified of her brother’s injuries.
“Two Marines fully dressed in dress blues … rang the doorbell,” she recalled. “We thought that we’d lost him.”
Sent to Brooke Army Medical Center to recover, Alex received a visit from Bob Hope and a letter from then-president Richard Nixon, who informed him that he had personally asked the Navy Department “be as understanding as circumstances permit in its review” of Alex’s request to remain on active duty.
No less a patriot after leaving the Marine Corps, Alex traveled to the Texas coast on July 4, 1972, raising a flag on the beach and laying beside it.
The scene caught the attention of a news photographer who took a picture that many newspapers ran the next day.
Alex also wrote to the San Antonio Light in the early 1970s, suggesting that the city establish a memorial for Vietnam Veterans, an idea that gained momentum in the 1980s.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Veterans Memorial Plaza was unveiled in 1986.
Leroy Calvin Alex Jr. Born: May 18, 1948, San Antonio Died: Nov. 21, 2016, San Antonio Preceded by: Mother Eleanor Alex. Survived by: Daughters Jennifer Alex, and Summer Alex; son Aaron Alex; father Leroy Alex Sr.; three brothers; three sisters; 16 grandchildren. Services: Funeral at 9:45 a.m. November 29, 2016 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 16075 N. Evans Road, Selma, Texas
Veteran sues American Airlines for refusing
Lisa McCombs arrived at a Kansas airport on a Sunday to catch a flight back home to Mississippi after a day trip. She says she was sitting in a public waiting area with service dog Jake by her side when an American Airlines employee approached her.
“Ummmm, are you trying to fly with that?” McCombs says the woman told her as she nodded at the Labrador retriever.
It was the beginning of what McCombs described as an “emotionally scarring ordeal” that continued during a layover at DFW International Airport, according to a federal suit against American Airlines filed last week.
McCombs told a court that she joined the Army in 2005 and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan that left her with a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Jake is a certified service dog that has been individually trained to move his body in close contact with McCombs to distract her when he senses that she’s experiencing a panic attack or high anxiety, according to her complaint.
The Mississippi resident said in the court filing that she had flown into Kansas with Jake without incident the morning of Oct. 25, 2015, but that airline staff then proceeded to block her from flying out with her service dog two days in a row despite her documentation.
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller declined to comment on McCombs’ allegations or say whether the airline would challenge her in court.
“We appreciate and thank Ms. McCombs for her service to our country,” Miller said Sunday, noting that the airline’s policy regarding service animals is in keeping with applicable laws.
But McCombs claims that American Airlines didn’t follow its own rules when it came to Jake.
According to the suit, the airline required one of the following to prove service dog status: an animal ID card, a harness or tags, written documentation or credible verbal assurance.
McCombs told a federal court that her dog was harnessed and wearing a vest identifying him as a service animal.
The American Airlines employee who had nodded at McCombs’ dog asked for her ID and then returned to tell her she couldn’t fly with Jake, according to the complaint. When McCombs protested, the employee told McCombs to talk to her supervisor, who allegedly told the veteran there was no documentation in the system and that he was canceling her flight.
McCombs described getting conflicting information from American Airlines representatives on the phone. She claims a woman told her that she could board her flight with Jake if she printed her documentation and showed it to the agents. But, McCombs says, another representative told her she had to pay $125 to fly Jake as cargo or submit documentation and wait two days for another flight.
According to the suit, McCombs started crying when the agents at the airport loudly demanded to know McCombs’ disability and what service the dog provided.
“I have PTSD, look at me, I’m an anxious mess!” she says she told them. “He’s my service dog!”
McCombs says in her suit that she pulled up Jake’s documentation on her laptop but airline staff wouldn’t budge. When she cursed in frustration, she says one of the agents threatened to have her arrested. She described being “kicked out” of the airport by an agent and that a police officer even offered to drive her to a shelter.
Although the veteran had been booked for another flight two days later, she says in her court filing that she called the airline to arrange an earlier flight and was told there would be no trouble with Jake.
The day after the first incident, McCombs returned to Manhattan Regional Airport in Kansas, where she once more met resistance from American Airlines staff, according to the complaint. A manager who demanded paperwork later approached McCombs with “malice,” causing Jake to whine and shift, the veteran claims.
“It is against the law to harass a service animal and their handler and I will call the police on you,” McCombs says she told the manager, who allegedly chuckled and walked away.
The woman says in her complaint that Jake was denied again because a letter from her doctor wasn’t dated and because his certification had to be within the previous year. After leaving the airport, McCombs says she spoke on the phone with another airline representative, who told her Jake was listed as an emotional support dog, not a service dog. (Emotional support animals don’t qualify as service animals under federal law. American Airlines requires documentation for the former.)
McCombs canceled her American Airlines flight and contacted another airline to fly out of a different city in Kansas. She rented a car to get there, but an American Airlines representative called her to arrange a third flight and assured her there would be no problem with Jake, according to the suit.
At the Manhattan airport, she was able to board a plane with Jake two days after the original flight, the complaint reads.
But when McCombs arrived at DFW Airport, she says she was met with “an entourage” of American Airlines staff pushing a wheelchair and loudly calling out, “We are looking for a Lisa McCombs, a disabled veteran.”
“This group of representatives insisted on escorting Ms. McCombs and Jake to the dog relief area and to their next gate, making a spectacle of Ms. McCombs and causing unnecessary attention and embarrassment even though Ms. McCombs repeatedly assured them that she and Jake could manage without their assistance,” the lawsuit reads.
Miller, the airline spokesman, said an American Airlines captain who is also an Army veteran reached out to McCombs after her flights to get more information about what had happened.
McCombs described this interaction in her complaint, alleging that military and veteran initiatives manager Jim Palmersheim had acknowledged to her that the airline was embarrassed by the situation. The woman alleges that Palmersheim said the company would make things right and offered her international, first-class tickets plus an invitation to a “salute the troops” event in Las Vegas hosted by the airline.
“Our airline really sucked when it came your experience,” McCombs says Palmersheim told her.
McCombs didn’t specify an amount in damages but wants the airline to pay compensation for emotional distress, refund her tickets with interest and cover all past and “reasonable” future medical expenses to treat her PTSD.
Navy vet with service dog says she was told
she ‘wasn’t disabled’
ATLANTA, GA – An Atlanta restaurant is apologizing to a Navy veteran after she said she and her service dog Halk were turned away by employees who told her she didn’t need the dog.
Wanda Garneaux was supposed to meet a friend at the Daiquiri Factory on West Peachtree Street when she said she was stunned by the response when trying to enter the business.
“I reached for the door and before I could even put my hand on the handle, the security guard stopped me and said, you’re not allowed in here with that dog,” she told 11Alive’s Kaitlyn Ross exclusively.
She says she felt uncomfortable, but asked to speak with a manager, who allegedly told her she didn’t look disabled enough.
“She said, ‘You’re not blind.’ And I said ‘No, I’m not,’” Garneaux explained. “So she said, ‘Then, you’re not disabled, and you can’t have a service dog.’”
Garneaux, who served in the United States Navy and suffers from PTSD, said she was floored. She said she tried to explain to the manager her service dog was legal and certified. She even tried to show her the I.D. hanging on Halk’s vest which says in bright red letters that read “full access is required by law.”
Halk’s vest even has a QR code on his vest that people can scan with their cell phone to read a copy of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But Garneaux said after fighting with them for 10 minutes, she eventually gave up.
“I don’t like being made to feel like I am different, because in my mind, I’m struggling to be the same,” she said. “I’m struggling every day to cope and fit back in to society.”
On the way home Garneaux told her friend she didn’t think it was worth it. During the interview, she told 11Alive that she was even considering giving Halk back because of all the negative attention she’s gotten during the few days she’s had him. But as soon as she started crying, Halk, sensing her distress, moved in to try to comfort her.
11Alive went back to the Daiquiri Factory and spoke to the manager, who said she misunderstood the law. The manager refused to go on camera but did apologize to Garneaux and offered a free meal.
Garneaux accepted the apology, but that’s not what this Navy vet wants. “I know things are not perfect, I don’t want them to be perfect, I just want a normal life,” she said. She said she wants people to educate themselves on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and how to support people who are struggling.
We hope everyone has had a very Happy Thanksgiving.
I have heard and read all kinds of negativity concerning Thanksgiving for the past several days, and I have one thing to say: A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO FORGET THAT THEIR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY IN ONE WAR OR THE OTHER.
Besides all of that, I have yet to find a perfect race of people.
Every race has good folks, down-on-their-luck folks, and the dregs of society.
I want to say THANK YOU to Our Veterans, Active Service Members, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters. and other public servants, for all you do.