September 03, 2022 3 min read 4 Comments
By Ray Glier
Lou Seelig, 79, has been in combat and nearly earned a quick ticket to Valhalla when a sharpened Punji stick went through him in Viet Nam. Just so you know the man has some courage in the bank.
Still, when he was leaning back off a ledge 14 stories high last Sunday, whew!, he picked his steps carefully.
“When you are leaning back over the edge of a building that high up it is quite exciting,” Seelig said. “It gives you the chills and there's a level of anxiety until you finally rest in your harness and you feel comfortable.
"It was quite fun."
Lou was taking part in a fundraiser "Go Over the Edge" for a Haitian orphanage. The task was to rappel from 150 feet high off the top of the Hyatt Regency in Tysons Corner, Va., for Helping Haitian Angels. He paid $1,250 for the pleasure of making his heart race...and helping kids in poverty.
If I can bestow Geezer Jock status on the person who walks around the block, I can give status to the man who climbs down from a skyscraper, especially when he is a month shy of his 80th birthday. The harness did not let him go very fast—not Tom Cruise-down-the-side-of-a-building-fast—but it was enough speed to raise the hair on your skin.
Lou, of course, was the oldest of the daredevils. "By far," he said.
Lou checked the rigging himself and checked the bona fides of the company staging the event, which is part of his military trust-and-verify regimen. And away he went.
I can't imagine there was much panic in him as he bounced down the wall. After all, Lou jumped out of a plane at 75 years old.
He has built a layer of steel for these later life escapades.
Seelig was 24 and his 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One, was the first heavy combat division the U.S. sent in to Vietnam. The North Vietnam regulars and Viet Cong fought back ferociously. Seelig’s battalion was the 1st Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment, which protected the northern perimeter of Saigon. It was grim work.
“I didn’t think I was coming back (from Vietnam),” Seelig said. “During my one-year tour we sustained 50% fatalities."
He fell into a Punji Trap and a sharpened bamboo stick went into his leg. He received a Purple Heart, but two feet higher and it could have been the worst news for his family back in Buffalo.
Seelig is one of nine children, and most of his family came to town because the rappelling was part of his upcoming 80th birthday celebration. Of course, his wife, Jean, "my biggest supporter", he said, was part of the festivities.
Lou is accustomed to working on things in the sky. After the military he was the controller for Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars project (Strategic Defense Initiative) and then CFO for a subsidiary of Bell Canada.
These days, when his feet are firmly planted on the ground, he is retired and plays golf and sings in the community choral.
Seelig added to the fun by wearing a Superman costume to descend from the Hyatt. He was leaping tall buildings in a single bound (sort of).
Who needs Tom Cruise when you have Superman Seelig?
Photos by Joe Woyciesjes.
Lou doing his SuperLou bit. And Lou and Jean.
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