Kenneth C. Leuer, 56BSC, has displayed the epitome of character, leadership, and professionalism—whether on the UI wrestling mat or in the highest ranks of the U.S. Army—throughout a lifetime of selfless service and sacrifice.
A native of Wayzata, Minnesota, Leuer was a two-time wrestling champion and all-State football player in high school, and he earned his place among the University of Iowa's most legendary wrestlers. During his career as a UI student-athlete, he became not only an all-American Wrestler, but also the 1956 Big Ten and NCAA champion.
Following graduation with his business degree in commerce, he pursued a highly decorated, 32-year career in the military that included various international assignments with the U.S. Army Infantry. Throughout his years in active duty, Leuer was a commander at the platoon, company, battalion, brigade, division, and post levels, and he also served in several special-operations units.
In 1974, shortly after the United States had withdrawn from the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams assigned Leuer the task of resurrecting the Army Rangers, an elite fighting unit, for the first time since World War II.
In this role, Leuer helped create the 75th Ranger Regiment—now the best light-infantry unit in the world—and he also established standardized, performance-based training for the Rangers. "This concept, as simple as it sounds, continues to have a profound, positive impact on the combat readiness of our Army," writes his colleague Ralph Puckett, a retired U.S. Army Colonel. "This one advance is so important that he should go down in our history as one of the Army's great trainers."
At the time of his retirement in 1988, Leuer was serving as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia—the Army's largest post. After leaving active duty, he accepted the role of regional president/CEO of Goodwill Industries, elevating his branch from financial hardship to international recognition during a decade with the organization.
Not only did Leuer devote himself to the cause of Goodwill Industries, but he also volunteered selflessly on behalf of the U.S. Army Rangers. In 1992, he volunteered to become the founding president of the National Ranger Memorial Association, which built and maintained a memorial to all Rangers. He also served as president of the Ranger Hall of Fame, which helps select and honor the most outstanding Ranger leaders throughout history.
Leuer has received a host of awards for his military and athletic achievements, including the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and two Bronze Star Medals. He was also a charter inductee into the Ranger Hall of Fame and received Distinguished Alumni Awards from his high school and the Minnesota State High School Athletic Directors' Association. In addition, the University of Iowa Varsity Club named him a Lifetime Achievement Award winner in the UI Athletic Hall of Fame.
Through both his distinguished military career and his personal commitment to others, Kenneth C. Leuer has demonstrated the truest essence of the Ranger creed: "Rangers Lead the Way."
Leuer is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Sustaining Life honor club.