At age 73, retired Army Colonel and former acting United States Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee shows no signs of slowing down.
Since retiring from his position in 2004, which he was appointed to under President George W. Bush, Brownlee went to work as the senior vice president of a Virginia-based technologies company and sits on the board of directors for Blue Star Families.
On Friday, he was in Odessa to attend his 55th high school reunion at the MCM Elegante.
“You don’t want to forget where you came from,” Brownlee, a ’57 graduate from Odessa High School said about returning to his hometown.
Originally born in Pampa, Brownlee and his family moved to Odessa when he was in the fifth-grade. Though not much of the athletic type, he said he ran a bit of track and was an athletic trainer for the teams his friends were on.
Getting a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, Brownlee joined the ROTC program and left college as a commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Army.
During his time in the military, Brownlee has been awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Star with oak leaf clusters and Bronze Star with oak leaf clusters. Brownlee was also recently honored with the Doughboy Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the U.S. Army Infantry.
Brownlee also served almost 18 years with the U.S. Senate with the Committee on Armed Services.
But work has never gotten in the way of family. Georgene Miller, Brownlee’s older sister by 23 months, said he came down to the hospital in Dallas when her husband got sick.
“He drove me back home,” Miller said. “I’m proud of all he does.”
Though he currently lives in Arlington, Va., Brownlee came back in 2007 for his 50th high school reunion. Asked to speak at that event, Brownlee said he declined to talk this time, saying he wanted to give someone else the chance to address his former classmates.
“I was honored they thought highly enough of me to ask me to speak,” Brownlee said. “But you don’t have to be Secretary of the Army to be successful."