Tallahassee lawyer fights the War on Terrorism Tallahassee lawyer fights the War on Terrorism September 1, 2003 Managing Editor Regular News Mark D. Killian Managing EditorWhen Islamic terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Tim Leadbeater, a Tallahassee tax attorney, “was stunned,” but also knew he soon would play a role in hunting down those who dealt the blow to his adopted homeland.“As soon as I saw those planes crashing, I was very sure it was a terrorist attack and knew that we were going to be mobilized,” said Leadbeater, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. “I was ready for it and in many ways grateful to have an opportunity – because like so many other people who were stunned and angered and wanted to be able to do something – this was an opportunity to actually be able to do something.”A few months later, Leadbeater – a Canadian by birth and American by choice – was deployed to Camp Doha in Kuwait, where he served as the deputy comptroller of Coalition Forces Land Component Command until August 2002. In prosecuting the War on Terrorism, Leadbeater said, CFLCC exercised command and control over land combat operations in Afghanistan and prepared for possible combat operations against Iraq.“We would send people down into Afghanistan,” said Leadbeater, who practices with Ausley & McMullen. “In our case we literally sent down guys with bags of American money to be able to provide [goods] and pay bills that our forces on the ground needed.”The initial months of the campaign against the Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies reminded him of the “Wild West.”“Our ground forces needed various things in way of support of facilities, contracting locally with Afghan vendors, including buying horses that our special forces people needed and actually used while they were in Afghanistan,” Leadbeater said, noting at one point his unit sent two sergeants into Afghanistan carrying a million dollars in $20 bills. “Then they had to sleep with it in tents, because there was nothing in terms of permanent facilities and then they had to be able to control and procure items locally [for the troops]. That was challenging because you did not know who you were dealing with.”Leadbeater retired from the military in April after 30 years of enlisted and commissioned service, including as an Army Airborne Ranger and as a paratrooper in the 82d Airborne Division. After leaving active duty in 1981 he served in the Army Reserve until his recent retirement.Because Leadbeater had more than 20 “good” years for retirement purposes, he could have retired and left the war for others to resolve. But he choose not to, saying it was difficult for him to “conceive of a more important mission, at that moment, than supporting the War on Terrorism.”Leadbeater also felt he owed it to his adopted country to help defend it. Leadbeater emigrated from Canada in 1964 along with his parents and six younger siblings and remembers vividly the excitement of seeing the Statue of Liberty as they sailed into New York harbor on an aging Italian liner.“We sold everything up in Canada.. . and just loaded up our possessions,” Leadbeater said. “Just knowing my father, that was the most economical way to move our family of nine from Halifax down to Deerfield Beach, especially since we did not have a car.”After clearing immigration and customs, the family traveled by train to Deerfield Beach. There his father and another Canadian expatriate opened a small retail office supply store, Royal Stationery, and he and his family “partook of the bounties of this great land.”Leadbeater said he has always deeply appreciated the opportunities the nation has afforded him and countless others.One of those opportunities came as a “second chance” for Leadbeater to get an education after graduating from Pompano Beach Senior High School in 1969 with an abysmal 1.7 GPA. That second chance came in the form of Palm Beach Junior College, where a high school diploma was the only entrance requirement. There he found a mentor who taught him how to study and take tests.“I had someone who cared enough to give me the kind of support I needed,” Leadbeater said. “He was a family friend who was also a high school math teacher. His name was Doug Traxler and he tutored me that first semester at no charge. More importantly he encouraged me and gave me the confidence I needed to go on to earn four degrees and three board certifications.“I firmly believe that in virtually any other country my high school performance would have relegated me to a station in life that would have been virtually impossible to change,” he saidLeadbeater, who once pumped gas and bagged groceries to make ends meet, earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1973, Master of Business Administration (accounting) in 1985, his Juris Doctor in 1988, and a Master of Laws in taxation degree in 1989. He also is a Florida Bar board certified tax lawyer, a certified financial planner, and a certified public accountant.Leadbeater became a naturalized American in June 1973, which he considers one of the most significant events in his life. Three weeks later, as the draft and war in Vietnam was winding down, Leadbeater enlisted in America’s new all volunteer army.He went through basic training at Ft. Knox with the last draftees and was accepted to Officer Candidate School in 1974, while serving with a ranger unit in Washington.Leadbeater said it was a very sobering experience to board that military charter in November 2001, wearing his desert camouflage uniform and carrying two duffle bags not knowing his final destination nor when or even if he’d be returning.“The experience gave me a new appreciation for the service and sacrifices many others have made before,” Leadbeater said.When he returned home from Kuwait in August 2002, “it was with an invigorated appreciation for America and a realization that our way of life, our freedoms are more fragile than I had realized.”Leadbeater, 52, reached his mandatory military retirement date during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, which left him somewhat disappointed.“I have friends in the reserves and on active duty who have been or are over there,” he said. “What a civilian might not understand is that if you are working with people, there is a bond that develops, especially in those circumstances, and when you see how well they have operated, you kind of wish you were there.”For Leadbeater, the American way of life has always been something worth defending and the events of 9/11 only deepened that conviction.“I am a grateful American,” he said.