Super Senior: Lenny Couture
WESTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - Lenny Couture is sweet on his corn. “Ten-to-12,000 ears of corn,” Couture said. All prime for the picking in his 1/2 acre home- garden in Westford. “Joe, I’m thinking you’re walking through the field of dreams.”
This, though, is reality. Couture gives away every kernel to groups dear to his heart -- fellow veterans. “Wow, you can’t buy that feeling, you just can’t buy it. So, that’s why I do it,” he said.
Couture boasts about his marvelous maize, saying there’s no better. “Oh, you got to take a bite... right out of the middle,” he advised.
“I’m like any old guy, 72 years old and frigging aches and pains. The more I do, the better I feel. Otherwise, you waste away, you know?” Couture said.
His corn carrier is an old German land yacht. “We’ll take that Mercedes farm vehicle and gather them up,” Couture said. “Thing will hold 500 ears.” He shares the ride with his beagle, Harley-girl.
Looking at old high school pictures takes him back. “That kid now, I would say, you have no idea what’s in front of you,” Couture said.
By the numbers, he was the oldest of eight. He drew a number four on the Vietnam War Draft Lottery, all but assuring he would get drafted. So, the Burlington native instead enlisted and picked the Navy. “My country basically said either go fight or you’re going to jail,” Couture said.
In 1971 he landed on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga off the coast of Vietnam, repairing jet engines. “I remember the newspapers saying it was a Christmas cease-fire. We dropped more bombs that week than all of Vietnam history. We literally leveled Hanoi,” Couture said.
After his four-year tour, Couture soared. Training not to fix planes, but to fly them for a living. “I didn’t go to college. Matter of fact Joe, I didn’t even graduate from high school. And here I am, a damn commercial pilot,” he said.
At Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, Couture says he was no angel, but he also wasn’t a hellion. “I learned all my stuff, I took school seriously. I did all my homework, but the nuns, just... that’s just the way they were,” he said.
At the age of 65, Couture’s wings were clipped -- the mandatory age when commercial pilots have to retire. Now, the former American Airlines pilot is a commander for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
On this day, Couture’s produce delivery is going to Josh’s House in Colchester, a place for Vermont veterans to hang out and have a good meal. Andrea Gagner is the organization’s development director. “Just a great guy, never asks for anything in return,” she said. Except for a compliment...
Andrea Gagner: I been told this is the best corn ever.
Lenny Couture: Nobody’s arguing.
Andrea Gagner: Mmmm, it’s really good.
Lenny Couture: And that’s what you get out of it...
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