Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class
2ND PLT, M CO, 3RD BN, 5TH MARINES, 1ST MARDIV
United States Navy
20 September 1946 – 04 September 1967
San Antonio, Texas
Panel 25E Line 103
For extraordinary heroism on 4 September 1967 while serving as corpsman with the Second Platoon, Company “M”, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), FMF, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces in the Republic of Vietnam.
During Operation SWIFT, the Second Platoon was providing security for the Battalion Command Group when the platoon came under heavy enemy fire. Petty Officer (then Hospitalman) Leal ran through the fire-swept area, and began administering first aid to several casualties who were directly exposed to grazing fire. Although constantly exposed to heavy fire, and painfully wounded himself, he rendered aid for two hours to wounded Marines who were located between friendly and enemy lines. He refused to be evacuated in order that he might continue his mission of mercy. While treating his comrades and moving them to protected areas, Petty Officer Leal was severely wounded for a second time and, despite being immobilized, calmly continued to aid his wounded comrades. A Marine tried to drag him to a covered position, but was shot in the hand and, at that time, Petty Officer Leal received a third wound. Petty Officer Leal pushed the Marine and told him to take cover from the assaulting enemy whom they both could see. Suddenly a North Vietnamese soldier fired a machine gun from close range, mortally wounding Petty Officer Leal.
Through his swift actions and professional skill in aiding and protecting the wounded, he significantly eased the suffering and undoubtedly saved the lives of several of his comrades. His exceptional courage and unfaltering dedication to duty in the face of great personal risk were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.