Frelinghuysen Reunites With Old Army Buddy on the Hill

Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:45pm

You know that friend. The one who comes into your life, maybe just briefly, but the one who gets you and accepts you almost instinctively? That friend who, even after years apart, makes it feel like no time has passed when you’re reunited?

Well, last week, after 42 years, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., was reunited with that friend, according to the American Bar Association.

Frelinghuysen and his former Army commander, Richard Leefe, met outside of the congressman’s office for the first time since serving together in Vietnam.

“We had immediate recognition,” Frelinghuysen told the ABA. “That was an emotional moment.”

The two old friends didn’t know that Leefe — a founder of the law firm Leefe, Gibbs, Sullivan & Dupré and president-elect of the Louisiana State Bar Association — was in Washington, D.C., or that his former commander was going to pay him a visit. Leefe was in town to lobby Congress on behalf of the American Bar Association’s annual “ABA Day.” He had a break in his schedule and decided to pay his old friend a visit.

“Rodney and I spent about a month and a half together, literally, all the time every day,” Leefe said. “Rodney, no matter where I met him, we would have been friends.”

Leefe described the reunion this way: “[Frelinghuysen] came running out, we hugged, and it was just like we were there again. We were instantly bound again as friends.”

“I think now we will see each other regularly,” Leefe told ABA. “We finally got back together.”

On top of finding his old Army buddy, Frelinghuysen was one of six members of Congress who received the 2013 ABA’s Congressional Justice Award for his work preserving Legal Services Corporation funding in Hurricane Sandy relief legislation. Other recipients Sens. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y.