Michael D. Leonard, bio

Michael D. Leonard, Air Force Pararescue Team. 1963-1966

Michael D. Leonard was born on August 12, 1942 in Lawler, Iowa. He graduated from the Lawler Public High School in 1960, attended Upper Iowa University and joined the USAF on January 5, 1963. On August 18, 1964 he made a parachute jump from a CH-54 aircraft on a training mission when both his main and reserve parachutes failed to open. Airman Leonard was interviewed on the Johnny Carson show three days later.

During 1963 and 1964 Airman Leonard based at the 48th Air Rescue at Eglin AFB Florida made several parachute jumps into the Atlantic Ocean in support of the NASA mission to put a man in space. Airman Leonard stationed in Japan continued on active support with the NASA program in the Pacific in the first half of 1965.

In July 1965 Airman Leonard was reassigned to Danang AFB South Vietnam to support the combat rescue mission. During his tour of duty at Danang, Airman Leonard earned 9 Air Medals and 3 DFC's (Distinguished Flying Cross).


Citation to accompany the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Second Oak leaf Cluster to Airman Michael D. Leonard.

Airman First Class Michael D Leonard distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in area flight as a Pararescue technician near Danang Airbase Republic of Vietnam on 23 October 1965. On that date Airman Leonard, while encountering hostile ground fire repeatedly went into an unsecured area to evacuate and provide medical aid to eight critically injured Marines by hosting them individually 200 feet through the jungle growth. This courageous and aggressive act resulted in saving the lives of at least two of the men and relieving each man from the considerable discomfort and probable loss of life in a long and tedious trek through the jungle. The professionalism,  competence, skill and devotion to duty displayed by Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Citation to Accompany the Award of the Air Force Accommodation Medal

Citation to accompany the Award of the Air Force Accommodation Medal to Michael D Leonard Airman Second Class.  Michael D Leonard distinguished himself by outstanding achievement well participating in aerial flight as a para-rescueman near Rock Hill, Florida 18 August 1964. On that date, after jumping from a HC 54 aircraft on a training mission, both his main and reserve parachutes failed to deploy properly. Airman Leonard demonstrated self control, determination and exceptional skill by positioning himself in such a way that he prevented serious injury upon contacting the ground. The professionalism and ability displayed by Airman Second Class Leonard reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

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