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1947 Henry 2023

Henry Leslie Billings

May 22, 1947 — June 10, 2023

Henry Leslie Billings, age 76, of Covington passed away on Saturday, June 10, 2023. He was born on May 22, 1947 in Tipton County and grew up in Atoka. A graduate of Munford High School, he was drafted into the U.S. Army on December 1, 1966, and shortly thereafter became known as “Hank.” After Basic Combat Training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, he attended Heavy Mortar and Davy Crockett School at Ft. Benning followed by Jungle Survival School at Ft. Sherman, Panama. His first tour of duty in Vietnam included an assignment as Weapons Platoon Leader in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, C Company of the 2nd Battalion 3rd Infantry. During this tour, Leslie was wounded by a ground mine (now called an IED) in the Parrots Beak area along the Cambodian Border. In December of 1969, he returned to Ft. Campbell. He met his wife Melanie at a ball game, when she was in college, and they were married on January 23, 1970. After 9 months as a Basic Training Company Commander, then 12 weeks at Vietnamese Language School, he found himself starting 1971 on his second tour of duty in Vietnam – this time as the Senior Advisor to the 2nd Battalion 10th Regt. 7th ARVN Div. He was assigned to work with the Vietnamese Battalion Commander, whom he shadowed for about 10 months. Although living conditions were often difficult, he quickly learned to eat what the locals ate - chicken, boiled duck, fermented fish, and various edible weeds – and to obtain fresh water from coconut milk and to steal water from cisterns. After his second tour in Vietnam, Leslie spent 9 months in the Officer Advanced Course for Senior Captains at Ft. Benning before being assigned to Ft. Gordon, Georgia as the Assistant S4 for the Military Police Brigade. He was discharged from active duty 10 months later and transferred to the Army Reserves in September of 1973. He worked various civilian jobs, such as a 30-year employment with DuPont. During that time, he gained the nickname “Sarge.” During their 53 years of marriage, Leslie and Melanie travelled all over the country, attending Vietnam Veteran reunions, and C and E Company reunions, and were members of Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Atoka. Mr. Billings was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, the 40 & 8, and Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was also a regular volunteer at the Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial, and Nature Center and was a featured soloist at the annual Tipton County Veterans Council Memorial Day Service honoring fallen Veterans. More kind-hearted than his often gruff demeanor betrayed, Leslie was an advocate for timely and accurate Veteran’s healthcare. He spent many hours and tanks of gasoline transporting veterans to and from doctors appointments and helping ensure they filed their compensation claims. Mr. Billings is survived by his beloved wife, Melanie Hardin Billings; his grandson, Kade Allan; his son-in-law, Roger Allan; two brothers, Bill (Joan) Billings and Earl (Sue) Billings, and his sister-in-law, Donna Billings. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Wendi Allan; two brothers, Mike Billings and Harold Billings; his sister, Marilyn Morris; his parents Joseph and Myrtle Leslie Billings, and his aunt, Winnie Billings. Funeral services will be held at 2pm on Thursday, June 15, at Covington Funeral Home, with interment to follow in Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Atoka. The family will begin receiving friends at the funeral home at 12 noon, until service time. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Tipton County Veteran’s Museum, St. Jude, or Le Bonheur.
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