In the summer of 1965, Leo Ehrensberger of St. Marys was an accounting major at St. Vincent College when he accompanied some friends out on a Friday night. On a whim, they decided to take an assessment being offered the next day for the Peace Corps.
"About three or four months later, four of us got letters that said we were accepted," Ehrensberger said.
As he was about to graduate and not sure what he wanted to do or where he wanted to work after graduation, he thought it would be a good opportunity. His first stop was six weeks of intensive training, including language courses, at the University of Texas. It was his first flight anywhere.
"I had never been on an airplane before in my life," Ehrensberger said.
After training, Ehrensberger, seven other accountants and 22 teachers traveled to their assignments in Afghanistan.
"We were the sixth group (of Peace Corps volunteers) in Afghanistan," Ehrensberger said.
While the teachers generally stayed in one area, the accountants traveled throughout the country, helping to implement a system for the Afghan government that would allow accurate reporting of funds distributed to the provinces by the federal government. Ehrensberger explained that the larger purpose of implementing a reporting system was to help fight corruption and stabilize government operations, a problem that, upon reflection, still troubles the country today.
"It was important because the government had no idea what was happening," Ehrensberger said.
From the Peace Corps base in Kabul, he and a translator traveled to a new province every six weeks, staying for six weeks each time. His first assignment was in an area very close to the Iranian border.