A Legend at the Wheel
The RV lifestyle is a growing trend, and continues to expand in spite of economic changes. After dropping off significantly up to 2009, sales rebounded 46% in 2010 and have continued to grow. According to US News & World Report, the average RV owner is 48 years old. I had the opportunity to meet one long-time RV enthusiast who is skewing that number just a bit higher. Retired Lt. General LeRoy Manor has spent his life on the move. His travels have taken him around the world in service to a country that he loves. It all began when he left his teaching job in New York State and put on a uniform to fly P-47 fighter planes in the skies over Europe in WWII. Most recently he’s settled into spending time touring the country in RV’s.
In a warm afternoon ceremony at Lazy Days in Seffner, Fl., Fleetwood RV President John Draheim presented the general with his eighth RV. It comes as no surprise that Manor is attracted to the build quality and unique features of the American Coach line of Fleetwood RV’s, but there’s little doubt the brand also taps into his patriotic spirit.
Before setting off again on another adventure, he took a few minutes to share some of his journey. I was asked to come out and capture some of those moments.
He began pilot training with the Army Air Corps 1942, and ended up flying 72 combat missions as part of the 358th Fighter Squadron. He described flying over Normandy on D-Day and looking down at the assembled allied fleet, as “an amazing sight”. Later he flew hundreds of missions over Vietnam, served as senior military negotiator and advisor to the US Ambassador the Philippines and was commander of the US Air Force Special Operations Force. Manor is perhaps best known for commanding Operation Ivory Coast which was the 1970 attempt to rescue American POW’s held at Sơn Tây Prison, near Hanoi. While the mission didn’t return any POW’s, it did provide a morale boost and improvement in living conditions for them. After generously sharing many stories from his crystal clear memory, this decorated Air Force veteran was asked what it was like to meet the President of the United States. Having met several, Manor smiled and said “Which one?”
Lt. General Manor has traveled thousands of miles over the years, and looks to cover many more in his new American Coach.