Fallen Hero: BG(Ret) Martha Jo Leslie


Funeral Home

Ott & Lee Funeral Homes

1360 W. Government St. Brandon, MS 39042


January 24, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Ott & Lee Funeral Home


January 24, 2022

11:00 AM
Ott & Lee Funeral Home



Honoring a Fallen Hero, Who Served Within the Mississippi National Guard

In recognition of our proud American tradition of honorable service which our military men and women have given to their country and our State, we honor a Fallen Hero. Our nation, our state, and the National Guard Association of MS (NGAMS) regard the memorializing of its retired military deceased as an honorable and sacred obligation. 

Another great Soldier and Fallen Hero has been released from duty, passed from our ranks on January 19, 2022, and moved on to his heavenly home. BG(Ret) Martha Jo Leslie, age 91, a retired member of the MS Army National Guard who had served within the 134th Evac Hospital, 213th Medical Group, and HQ STARC, has departed and gone to a better place with our good Lord.

It takes a special person to serve within the military for their country, giving up their family time, comfort, and safety for their country, ultimately for all Americans to enjoy their freedoms, safety, and way of life.  We now applaud you for your service to our country.  A special message from General Douglas McArthur remains applicable today for our servicemen that have passed:  “Old Soldiers never die; they just fade away”.

Rest in Peace Soldier.  We applaud your patriotism and brave efforts in serving our country and your family for their support of your service.  We thank you for your service.  Without your efforts and your families’ support, this country would not stand so boldly, shine so bright and live so free.

You now have earned a rest, so go fly with the Angels, go rest high on that mountain; your work on earth is done.  Go to heaven a-shoutin’ Love for the Father and the Son.

Obituary, visitation and service details:

Martha Jo Leslie, Brigadier General (Retired)

Her family, her state, the medical profession, and the Mississippi Army National Guard lost a legend on January 19, 2022, when Brigadier General Martha Jo Leslie (Retired) passed away in Brandon.  Services will be held at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon on Monday, January 24, with visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m.  Burial service will follow at 1:00 p.m. at the Mississippi State Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Newton.

“Jo,” as she was called, was born to Mose and Bessie Leslie on May 9, 1930, in Sallis.  She graduated Thomastown High School and the Mississippi Baptist School of nursing in 1951, fulfilling a childhood dream.  Her employment as an RN at the Baptist Hospital Emergency Room began a nursing career that would span forty years.  During those years, among positions she held were office nurse, surgical nurse, instructor, standards writer for nursing positions, nursing home consultant, and was quality assurance nurse for Beverly Enterprises at the time of her retirement.  She was a Red Cross volunteer disaster nurse for many years and received the Lola Byrd Award for her years of volunteer work during disasters.

General Leslie’s military career began in 1959 as a First Lieutenant with the 134th EVAC Hospital, and ended in 1992 when she retired as a Brigadier General.  At one point she was the only female in the Mississippi Army National Guard and recalled marching in a Camp Shelby parade of 10,000 soldiers, 9,999 of whom were out of step (she always claimed).  With her team, she taught the first 91B school at Camp Shelby, training soldiers to become medics.  She was the first female nurse in the United States to be promoted to colonel in the National Guard.  At the time of her retirement, she was Chief Nurse of HHD, 213th Medical Group.  During her career she was twice activated for federal service.  General Leslie received decorations and military awards too numerous to mention here.  The award she cherished most, however, was the Mississippi Magnolia Medal for her team leadership in caring for thousands of evacuees at Camp Shelby following Hurricane Camille.

Upon learning of her death, Mississippi Adjutant General Durr Boyles stated, “General Leslie served as a valuable mentor for this young officer.  She provided an example of veracity and compassion; most importantly, how to place the needs of the men and women in her organization first.”

After retiring from the National Guard and the medical profession, General Leslie was appointed by the governor to serve on the State Veterans Affairs Board.  The first female to be appointed to that board, she served for fifteen years, twelve of which as chairperson.  Under her leadership, the first Mississippi State Veterans Memorial Cemetery was approved and constructed in Newton County.  The Veterans Affairs Board and the Mississippi Legislature honored her for her role in improving the operations of State VA Homes by designating the VA Home located in Kosciusko as the “Martha Jo Leslie State Veterans Home.”

At age 90, dressed in red, white and blue, wearing a red baseball cap and walking with a cane, she trudged through the cemetery of her home church in Leake County, laying Christmas wreaths (provided by her) on the graves of veterans interred in that cemetery.

General Leslie formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby, the Board of Directors of the Red Cross, and the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Beneath her take-charge, get-‘er-done persona, was a soft heart.  She loved, and was loved by, her family, colleagues, friends and neighbors.  She enjoyed gardening, decorating, cooking, entertaining, and hosting Christmas Eve dinners.  She played a vital role in the lives of her nieces and nephews and especially of those beloved great-nieces and great-nephews.

General Leslie is survived by nieces Jeanette Cain Winstead (Jack) of Brandon, and Wanda Leslie Price (Joe) of Long Beach.  She is also survived by several great-nieces and great-nephews and their families.  In addition to her parents, General Leslie was predeceased by a brother, Hubert Leslie; by sisters Christine Chavers, Helen Cain, and Polly Leslie; by her brother-in-law Troy Cain; and by nephews Troy Cain, Jr., Bill Cain, Dick Cain, Jackie Leslie and Roy Leslie.

A purpose-driven life of service to others; that was her goal.  Goal accomplished!  Rest in peace, lovely lady.

Memorials may be made to Friends of Mississippi Veterans, 2921  8th Street, Meridian, MS 39301.

You may share condolences at www.ottandlee.com.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Martha Jo Leslie, please visit our floral store.