It’s nearly impossible to sum up the life of a man who has dedicated his to service.
A total of 44 years of military service, in fact, dedicated to saving lives in deployment — and dedicated to saving lives in his civilian life.
You may know him as Doctor Gordy Leingang.
But, first and foremost, he’s a patriot and a retired colonel of the North Dakota National Guard.
He goes by “Gordy” — pretty unconventional for a man of his distinction.
But his entire life has been pretty unconventional.
Gordy wasn’t always a doctor and wasn’t always a colonel.
“In high school, I knew that I was never gonna do well in college, I was piss and vinegar, and I needed some direction in my life,” Leingang said.
He joined the Marine Corps at age 17, where he became a crew chief flying Medivacs or medical evacuation aircraft.
“I got that position because I was a paramedic, which is very unusual for a Marine ’cause there’s no such thing as a paramedic in the Marine Corps. I got that training on my own,” he said.
And, after his four years as a Marine, Gordy went on to enlist with the North Dakota National Guard.
But, for his day job, he was Officer Gordy.
“I was a cop in Bismarck 15 years,” Leingang said.
“I maintained my certifications as a paramedic because I wanted to take care of people when I rolled up on an accident.”
Officer Gordy was also getting paid to fly in the Guard and he loved every minute of it.
So, long story short, the Guard paid for his college, and the officer became a doctor.
Just like that, and beyond his own wildest imagination, Gordy’s time in the military turned into a lifetime of service.
“Then, 20, and I’m enjoying it, the next thing you know 25 years,” said Leingang.
“Then the next thing you know, 9-11 happened. I couldn’t see myself getting out, and my son joined the Marine Corps at that time, and I thought, you know, I’ve never been to war, I had never done what I was trained to do.”
It was during deployment Gordy would earn the Combat Medic Badge for providing medical care while being engaged by the enemy.
“We were working out of the Humvee providing medical care,” he said.
It was during deployment that, while missing his own family, he would find a new one.
But it was also during deployment that Gordy would keep breaking the rules.
“I basically went hitchhiking across Iraq by helicopter to see my son — didn’t tell anybody,” Leingang said.
“I got so close, but then got busted. I wasn’t court-martialed.”
Luckily, the colonel’s career didn’t end there, because on what would have been his third deployment, this time to Afghanistan, “I got a mysterious call from Guard Bureau — this was out in Washington, DC — and they said, ‘Colonel, we have an unusual position that we need to fill.'”
Gordy was called up as the Medical Director for the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“At that time, we couldn’t take care of all the wounded people that were coming back,” Leingang said.
“The amputees, the traumatic brain injury, the post-traumatic stress — as many of these soldiers with these signature wounds of our conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan need to be taken care of over a long, long period of time. We needed to put them in a community-based wounded warrior unit, and somebody needed to manage that care.”
No doctor who serves in the military does it for money.
It’s not about the all-expense-paid trips.
For Gordy, it has always been about service to country, friendships along the way. Helping others, and not taking credit.
And, dedication to veterans who’ve served before him, and after.
“If you think there’s no honor left in the world, come out here and meet these young kids,” Leingang said.
Gordy says he was blessed to be part of three of the Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., with World War II Veterans.
He then had the distinct honor of attending at their deaths in the weeks after the Honor Flights, in the emergency room at St. Alexius where he was a trauma doctor.
Gordy is also credited with saving the life of a soldier while working at the unit in Bismarck on drill weekend.
He has also won countless awards for his work in the medical community.
He retired from the National Guard in September 2018, well past his “mandatory” retire date.
And he is still a practicing physician.