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).

 

Airman Leonard has been recommended for the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, and the Air Medal with nine clusters for conspicuous gallantry, outstanding achievement and sustained superior performance on 206 helicopter combat rescue missions in Southeast Asia. His outstanding performance enabled his crew to save five lives on four missions. He promptly located and effectively administered first aid to save the lives of two survivors when a C-123 crashed at midnight in rainy marginal weather. He was lowered into the jungle on the helicopter hoist to save a seriously injured Marine's life 12 Nov 65. Airman Leonard devised a method of securing the survivor with multiple injuries in the rescue basket to prevent further injury. On one mission, he reacted immediately to return hostile fire, suppressing it long enough for the helicopter and crew to avoid being hit and fly out of range. He eagerly penetrated and extremely hostile area three times on the helicopter hoist to locate the pilot of a crashed O-1E. Although hampered by jungle growth, a burning aircraft, exploding ammunition, and aware that unfriendly forces were only one-half mile away, he located and calmly recovered the pilot's body in five minutes on his third search. Another sample of his ingenuity is the rope seat he devised and used very successfully on two of the above missions for more rapid delivery and pick up on the helicopter hoist. Airman Leonard's ingenuity and calm, quick thinking performance under pressure mark him as a future leader. I recommend reassignment as a pararescueman in the Gemini space program to utilize his special training and experience.

Distinguished Flying Cross, Second Oak Leaf Cluster

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 the 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.

 

Air Medal

Airman First class Michael D Leonard distinguished himself by outstanding achievement while participating in aerial flight as a combat crew member in Southeast Asia from 13 October 1965 to 6 November 1965. During this period outstanding airmanship and courage were exhibited in the successful accomplishment of important missions under extremely hazardous conditions including the continuous possibility of hostile ground fire. His highly professional efforts contributed materially to the mission of the United States Air Force in Southeast Asia. The professional ability and outstanding aerial accomplishments of Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

 

Air Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster

Airman First Class Michael D. Leonard distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pararescue Specialist near DaNang Air Base, the Republic of Vietnam on 21 November 1965. On that date, Airman Leonard was the Pararescue Specialist on a helicopter that was scrambled to rescue the survivors on a C-123 that had crashed while making an instrument approach to DaNang Air Bass at night. Upon landing at the crash site, he quickly searched the wreckage and located the survivors, loaded the injured survivors on stretchers and into the helicopter, and administered medical aid enroute to the hospital. The professional skill and airmanship displayed by Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

 

Distinguished Flying Cross

Airman First Class Michael D. Leonard distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pararescue Technician near Khe Sanh, the Republic of Vietnam on 10 June 1966. On that date, while under the constant threat of hostile forces and only a mile from their automatic weapons positions, Airman Leonard repeatedly descended by helicopter hoist into a dense jungle crash site to recover a downed pilot. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Distinguished Flying Cross, First Oak Leaf Cluster

Airman First Class Michael D. Leonard distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pararescue Specialist near Quang-Tri, the Republic of Vietnam on 4 December 1965. On that date, Airman Leonard flew on a rescue mission to evacuate wounded Vietnamese from an outpost in hostile mountainous terrain. After flying to the outpost in adverse weather conditions, he quickly and expertly loaded the wounded in the helicopter and gave them medical aid while they departed the outpost under hostile fire which damaged their helicopter. After the wounded were offloaded at a hospital in friendly territory, he assisted in making temporary repairs to the helicopter prior to departing to his home base where it could be repaired and returned to an alert ready status. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

 

Distinguished Flying Cross, Second Oak Leaf Cluster

 

Airman First Class Michael D. Leonard distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pararescue Technician near DaNang Air Base 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 wounded Marines by hoisting 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 professional competence aerial skill and devotion to duty displayed by Airman Leonard reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Commodation 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 an 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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