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Camp Ripley: Local soldier, statesman and leader passes at 71

Col. Gary LeBlanc (left), chief of staff Minnesota National Guard, stands with Lt. Col Elwyn Kropuenske and Col. Ben Murdock during training at Camp Ripley June of 1992. Photo courtesy of Camp Ripley Public Affairs

CAMP RIPLEY—The funeral service and ceremony for Brig. Gen. (Retired) Gary E. LeBlanc will be held Friday, April 1, at Camp Ripley.

LeBlanc, a former Camp Ripley garrison commander and assistant adjutant general for the state of Minnesota, passed away March 25 at the age of 71.

A native of Little Falls, LeBlanc was born Oct. 2, 1944. The oldest of three sons to Elvin and Bernette LeBlanc, he enlisted as a private in the Minnesota National Guard a year after graduating from Little Falls High School in 1962. He was married to Anita M. Paulsen on May 15, 1965, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pierz. He was an Officers Candidate School graduate, receiving a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Maintenance Officer in June of 1968.

LeBlanc's military career with the Minnesota National Guard spanned 37 years, retiring as the assistant adjutant general in 2000. During his service to the state and nation, LeBlanc rose through the officer ranks in several leadership positions with the 747th Maintenance Battalion until taking a management position as a personnel support officer at the State Headquarters at St. Paul in the early 1980s.

Following his command of the 147th Signal Battalion in 1985, he became the garrison commander at Camp Ripley, where he served from July of 1986 to April of 1990. LeBlanc once again served at the State Headquarters in St. Paul as the chief of staff from May 1990 to August 1995 and assistant adjutant general of the Minnesota Army National Guard from August of 1995 to August of 2000.

During LeBlanc's time as garrison commander of Camp Ripley he was instrumental in the establishment and development of the Combined Support Maintenance Shop which is now the Consolidated Maintenance Activity area servicing all the vehicles and equipment of the Minnesota National Guard. Additionally, he created the Environmental Quality Control Committee and law Enforcement Advisory Council which built the framework for today's award winning programs of environmental stewardship and interagency partnership.

He was a graduate of St. Cloud State University and attended military courses such as the Cold Weather Operations School, Ordnance Officer Basic and Advanced Course, U.S. Public Health Services Basic Radiological Health Course, Command and General Staff College, Radiac Calibrator Custodian Course, Position Classification Seminar National Guard Professional Education Center, Senior Reserve Component Maintenance Management Course, Battalion/Brigade Pre-Command Course, Army War College, Mobilization/Deployment Planning Course, Command and General Staff College, Air Assault School, Executive Environment Leadership Course, Department of the Army Reserve Component Brigadier General Training Program.

LeBlanc's decorations include: Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with 1 silver and 2 bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 1 Hourglass Device, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Air Assault Badge.

Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, April 1, at the memorial chapel at Camp Ripley. Burial will take place at the State Veteran's Cemetery north of Little Falls. Visitation will be held 4-8 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the Shelley Funeral Chapel in Little Falls and 10-11 a.m. Friday, April 1, at the Memorial Chapel on Camp Ripley.

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