Only known U.S. veteran to serve in four wars — WWII, Korea, Indochina, Vietnam — is a North Louisiana legend who just turned 100

Col. Steven L. dePyssler is believed to be the only American to serve in four wars, which were World War II, the Korean War, the French-Indochina War, and the Vietnam War. 

But in the Ark-La-Tex region, he is just as well-known for his big, bright smile and his never-ending community service.

Indeed, this living legend of the United States and the Ark-La-Tex has helped countless people in our community retire with grace and dignity in his most recent job as director of retiree affairs at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish. But he has not retired himself.

This weekend, Col. dePyssler hit a significant milestone in his life as he celebrated his 100th birthday on July 21, 2019.

In honor of dePyssler’s 100 years, more than 300 friends and guests held a sold-out party at the Bossier City Civic Center on July 19, 2019. Special guest Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards provided remarks and gave a special declaration from the state to dePyssler.

With 38 years as an active-duty military member, 39 years as a volunteer and serving in four different wars, retired Col. dePyssler is the definition of living a life of service.

“It doesn’t feel any different than any other day,” dePyssler said. “I still intend to come to work on the day after I turn 100, and I’ll still be here the same as always.”

“It’s hard to find anyone else who served in four wars,” dePyssler said. “Because it took me 38 years on active duty to do all that.”

During his years of active duty service, dePyssler held every enlisted, warrant and officer rank from Private to Colonel.

“When I tell people I’ve held 20 different ranks, they always say that there aren’t 20 different ranks,” dePyssler said. “But in World War II, they had six grades that are no longer there, and I held three of them.”

dePyssler’s military career was remarkable, he received the Legion of Merit Medal four separate times. However, he feels some of his most impactful work came during his years of volunteering. Over the past 30 years, he has held the title of director of retiree affairs for Barksdale, helping countless veterans understand their retirement benefits along the way.

“Just this last month there have been 27 widows who needed my help,” dePyssler said. “I’ve always had one goal in life, and that’s to help at least one person a day, every day.”

That spirit of continued service seems to have no end in the retired colonel, as he plans to continue volunteering for as long as he can.

“I continue to do it because I enjoy coming to work, working with people and helping people,” dePyssler said. “As long as I’m able to come to work and help people, I will.”

Also, to commemorate the life and work of dePyssler, Barksdale renamed the 2nd Mission Support Group building to The dePyssler Mission Support Group building.

As another momentous milestone is checked off for dePyssler, the lives he’s touched and people he’s helped will continue his legacy for centuries to come.

Thank you for your service, Col. dePyssler.

Louisiana State Senator Ryan Gatti (left), presents retired Col. Steven L. dePyssler (right) 2nd Mission Support Group retiree affairs director, with a Louisiana state flag that was flown at the Louisiana State Capitol Building during dePyssler's 100th birthday celebration at the Bossier Civic Center, Bossier City, Louisiana, July 19, 2019. dePyssler served in four different wars during his 38 years of active duty service. (Photo by Jacob B. Wrightsman)

Col. Sara A. Custer (left), 2nd Mission Support Group commander, announces to retired Col. Steven L. dePyssler (right), 2nd MSG retiree affairs director, and the attendees of his 100th birthday celebration that the 2nd MSG building is renamed after dePyssler at the Bossier Civic Center, Bossier City, Louisiana, July 19, 2019. The building will now be called the dePyssler Mission Support Group Building. (Photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)
Story and photos by Jacob B. Wrightsman.