For most of his short life, Leonard Wynn called Pasco County home. But in death, that has not been the case.
Because he joined the Marines in St. Petersburg, all references to Wynn include that city — most notably, the historical record of the Vietnam War. Wynn's name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., and on a plaque in Williams Park in St. Petersburg.
Now it appears that Wynn will be included on the Pasco County memorial honoring nearly 80 troops killed in action since World War I, including 11 others who died in Vietnam.
"Oh, my,'' remarked his sister Sandra Wilson on Thursday. "This is good.''
Wynn was a 20-year-old lance corporal when he stepped on a land mine on May 29, 1967, in the Quang Nam province. The Times featured his story on Veterans Day after a Lacoochee woman, Celestine Bush Stephens, wrote that Wynn had been virtually forgotten in his home county.
Wynn was the only son among five children raised in Lumberton and Dade City by their mother, Varnie. He graduated in 1964 from the old Mickens High School, where he was an outstanding football player.
Wynn's grandparents, John and Corrine Owens, were among the original black settlers in Lumberton and raised 13 children, including Varnie. She died in 2003.
After reading about Wynn, Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson sent an e-mail to county commissioners and other officials. Even though Wynn joined the Marines in St. Petersburg when his mother moved there, Johnson said he could be included on the veterans memorial at the county courthouse once his relatives provide documentation of his history in Pasco.
In 2006, the county added Army Sgt. James L. Howell, who died at 22 when a helicopter carrying troops was shot down in Phuoc Long on March 5, 1970. He had graduated from Pasco High School, but his parents moved to Kathleen in Polk County, where he entered the service.
Pasco Times Editor Bill Stevens can be reached at (727) 869-6250 or at [email protected]