...COLONEL JOHN D. LENTON, USAR Born and raised in Olmstead County, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famous Mao Clinic and far from the ocean, John decided early in life that he wanted to be a doctor, but that goal was postponed by World War II.He
was 16 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked.Like many of his friends and schoolmates, he was eager to enter military service, and upon graduating from high school in 1943, he enlisted in the Navy, went to boot camp at Great Lakes NTS (the trauma and rigors of the experience were remarkably relieved by large servings of beans for breakfast on Saturdays), and was assigned to Radio Technician School, later changed to Electronic Technician.
It was immediately apparent to him that this had nothing to do with medicine.It was also apparent that he
was not in charge of such decisions.
At the beginning of 1945, John
, now a newly-minted RT, arrived at New London eager for submarine school, having volunteered in hopes of getting better food; but wait -- another unforeseen obstacle (remember -- he
was not in charge of those decisions).The RTs
, instead of going through the regular submarine training, attended several weeks of schooling in submarine electronics equipment.Thus it was that John
came aboard the MARLIN (SS205) knowing very little (practically nothing) about the inner workings of boats, much to the enjoyment of the crew.And (surely you have already guessed) there was precious little in the way of electronics on board.MARLIN was one of two experimental boats, the other being the MACKEREL, commissioned about 1940, weighing in at 900-1000 tons, intended for coastal patrol, but not suited for long patrols.She
was used as a training boat during WWII, then scrapped.In a way, she
was John's personal school boat.He
learned from the crew (OJT), and qualified while on the MARLIN -- a relatively brief sojourn, for after VE Day, he
was transferred to Point Loma for training in the maintenance of some new sonar (QLA).While he
was there the Japanese surrendered.He
was transferred to Pearl Harbor and assigned to the CHIVO (SS341) until discharge in April 1946.
Thus closed the first chapter of John's
two wars and the 44 years in between.He returned to the Midwest, pursued medical studies, and was awarded the MD degree in June 1953.
received additional training in internal medicine and was certified in that specialty by the American Board of Internal Medicine
.In 1983, while on the staff of the VA Medical Center
in Atlanta, looking for some new experiences, John
applied for a commission in the Medical Corps
, U.S. Army Reserve, which begins the second chapter of his
To John's surprise, he
was commissioned Colonel, Medical Corps, USAR
participated in regular training activities, as well as some in Germany and South America.At the beginning of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he
was mobilized and assigned to the Medical Activity at Fort Stewart, GA. Having already retired from the Veterans
Administration, and enjoying life as a colonel, he
volunteered to remain on active duty for three years.Life on an infantry post with some 20,000 troops is vastly different than life on a submarine, but not unpleasant and a great learning experience.Public Affairs interviewed John shortly before his separation from the Army in 1993, there being some curiosity about a qualified submariner in the Army.
The interviewer asked what had initially struck John
as being different about the Army
replied: "No submarines."
That closes the second -- and latest -- chapter.John and his lovely wife, Dr. Nancy Lenton, a clinical psychologist at Fort Stewart, are now permanent residents of Coastal Georgia, enjoying life on the Medway River.
Compiling a short list of the most important influences in his
life (so far), John
names the Submarine Service, Medicine, the Army
, and most significantly, his
marriage to Nancy. John is a member of SUBVETS WWII and presently serving as the Secretary/Treasurer of the TRIDENT Chapter, Kings Bay, Georgia.