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Roanoke veteran finding success long after serving in Vietnam

An 80-year-old veteran stays busy as a missionary and a father to his three-year-old great grandson
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Retirement usually means slowing down a little bit, especially in your 80s.

“Our mornings used to be to get up and sit down on the sofa in the living room and do our quiet time, our devotions, and pray and talk,” explained Leon Caldwell.

But for Caldwell and his wife Rosie, getting older meant more responsibilities and living life to its absolute fullest.

“Our great grandson was born and we were given the opportunity and challenge of being his guardian parents and we accepted that; we accepted that because he’s family.”

Taking care of a toddler keep them on their toes, but before Hunter came along life was far from quiet. If you know Leon Caldwell, you know he’s a busy man with a work ethic like no other. It all started in the military.

Caldwell was drafted to the United States Army in 1966 and got out in 1969 as an E5 Sergeant. Caldwell learned how to work on avionics equipment on aircraft. He was sent to the riots in Detroit.

Shortly after, he was sent to Vietnam, where he would receive the Bronze Star Medal. His successes were far from finished. Caldwell went on to coach basketball all throughout the Roanoke Valley for 45 years. He laid it all down when his wife Rosie was diagnosed with breast cancer. “As she got better, I said, ‘Lord, are you finished with me? Am I done?’ Five days later, my former pastor called me and asked me to go to Romania to direct some basketball camps,” said Caldwell.

Ever since then Caldwell has been active in his church, going on mission trips to Romania, sharing basketball and his faith.

It’s safe to say this Vietnam veteran, ex-basketball coach, husband, father to a toddler, and missionary is far from finished. But wherever God takes him, he is willing.

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