Leavenworth Mayor Pro Tem Mark Preisinger had the desire to serve his country since he was a child.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com


Leavenworth Mayor Pro Tem Mark Preisinger had the desire to serve his country since he was a child.
When he was awarded a four-year ROTC scholarship, he attended the University of Santa Clara and Kansas State University. The scholarship paid for his education and he entered the Army as a second lieutenant after graduation.
“Without the scholarship and education afforded me, I would have still served, as my draft number was 69,” said Preisinger.

His first assignment after officer’s basic training was as a platoon leader in a remote, tactically deployed artillery battery in Korea, an assignment that meant a lot of responsibility for a 22-year-old.
“I led a platoon of artillerymen,” said Mark. “I sustained a lot of injuries and wounds that still haunt me today, but I’m a better man for the 13 months I spent in Korea.”

His actions while serving in Korea on Dec. 25, 1973, earned him a decoration for valor/heroism by Gen. Richard Stilwell.
He believes the challenges of a military career include the balance of family/personal life with the needs/mission of the military.
“I chose not to make the military a career, but have countless friends and fellow service members who did,” said Preisinger. “With multiple deployments military members have it can be very difficult on the spouse and family at home. It is a team effort that the entire family must be on board with in order to be successful.”

The satisfaction that serving his country brought is very important to him and he believes that anyone considering joining the military should know that the experience they will have can never be replicated in civilian life and that they will always be proud of their service to their country.

He believes the profession of arms is an honorable one and that serving your country and being part of a very important team – a band of brothers/sisters with the understanding that the mission is more important than self – is something that everyone hoping to join the military should know.
“Knowing that you have given selflessly of yourself in the defense of the Untied States of America and your fellow service members is very satisfying,” said Preisinger. “Also having lifelong friends you have served with and knowing whenever and wherever you meet again, you have a bond that never can be broken.”

His service has helped him in every aspect of his life and afforded him skills that served him well in his civilian profession and his work as a city commissioner. He believes the military was the base for his beliefs in the importance of always being part of a team, giving of yourself for the betterment of others, leadership skills, compassion for your fellow man, having a mission and assembling the resources, both human and materiel, to accomplish a mission.
“The mission is the most important thing at all times,” said Preisinger. “Serving with honor, integrity and honesty.”  

Preisinger’s military training from 45 years ago kicked back into gear when he was recently faced with a life- and-death situation after seeing a car crash on Highway 73 as he was driving in the opposite lane.
When he jumped from his car and ran to the smoking wreck, he tried to save the life of the driver, who was fatally injured.
Having lifesaving training and the ability to act when others are frozen in fear and confusion were instrumental in his decision to risk his own life to save another.

“Being trained and expected to take action in any emergency situation in the military definitely helped in that situation,” said Preisinger. “Military training is intense, grueling and is designed to make you assess the situation and take necessary and deliberate action quickly.”
His pride for those who have served in the military is boundless.
“I am proud I was able to serve with other outstanding Americans, both draftees and volunteers from all walks of life and all parts of the USA and the territories who were willing to give of themselves to serve our great nation,” he said. “We were all individuals that came together, putting aside our differences and became a team as members of the greatest fighting force in the world. I am very proud of my service and proud of the other countless men and women who have served in the past 252 years – we are a minority of the population but we will always be able to hold our heads high. All veterans who have served honorably are heroes. They have given of themselves for the love of country. Happy Veterans Day to all who have served.”
He believes his experience serving his country is best expressed by the following poem by an unknown author.

“I was that which others did not want to be,
I went where others feared to go,
I did what others failed to do,
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing,
And reluctantly accepted the thought
Of eternal loneliness … should I fail.
  Do not judge me for what I have done,
Do not put political labels on me because I answered the call to arms,
I am liberal, I am conservative, I represent all of America.
  I have seen the face of terror,
Felt the stinging cold of fear,
And enjoyed the sweetness of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained and hoped … but most of all,
I have lived times that others would say
Were best forgotten.
  At least some day I will be able to say
That I was proud of what I was … a soldier, a sailor, an airman, a Marine.”