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102-year-old veteran saves Mason memorial statues with $30,000 donation

Leonard Gyles
Posted at 4:19 PM, Nov 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-10 16:19:30-05

MASON, Mich. — The wooden soldier statues in Mason are a depiction of those who fought for our country since the start of it and those who fight for it today.

"Each one replicates a soldier from a different war, very war that this county was involved in," said Mason American Legion Post Commander Leon Clark. "It's a proud moment to be standing here and looking and realizing that they're all of the people that have come before us from the civil war on that have fought and died."

But these statues are losing the battle against Mother Nature. The Afghanistan soldier wood is decay and has several holes from wood peckers.

American Legion Post Commander Leon Clark said for the repairs and replacement, Mason's American legion was going to need a miracle. Luckily they found one, 102 year-old veteran Leonard Gyles.

Gyles donated 30,000 dollars to the Mason American Legion so no wooden soldier would be left behind....

"They mean a lot to me, because they're replicas of people that served in out county," said Gyles.

Gyles served in world war 2 and so has plenty of stories about his time as a rifleman and a room full of history.

"I hold the combat infantry badge, the bronze star, purple heart, good conduct medal, I got eight medals in all," said Gyles.

After serving Gyles returned to the Mason community and owned a barber shop in down town. Now, he spends his days visiting elementary school and shares stories from his time fighting in Germany.

"Every days a new experience lets put it that way.. if you can get out of the horizontal and you can stand vertically you've got your day made so far," said Gyles.

Because of Gyles donation the Wooden Soldiers stand in front of City Hall for at least another decade.

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Hannah McIlree

5:13 PM, Nov 14, 2022

Mason, Leslie

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree