LeRoy Harland Charboneau

Army of the United States
14 March 1947 - 12 July 1967
Cheboygan, Michigan
Panel 23E Line 056


Silver Star


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Military Merit, Gallantry Cross, and Campaign medals

The database page for LeRoy Harland Charboneau

31 Oct 2005

Leroy Harland Charboneau (pronounced Charbonah) was a scrapper, per his brother Norm (my father-in-law). Leroy was never married, never fathered a child and left nothing of a legacy other than his sacrifice.

Leroy earned the Silver Star for gallantry while in combat, and the Purple Heart on 12 July 1967 in the Ia Drang Valley (Valley of Death), Pleiku Province, Republic of South Vietnam. His citation for the Silver Star was given to our family at the VFW post in Cheboygan, Michigan in October of 1967. Leroy is buried in Cheboygan and was the first soldier from Cheboygan County killed in action in Vietnam.

Leroy's actions that day are unknown to most of the family while only those who were there will truly know the weight of his actions. Leroy volunteered to be First Lieutenant Fred G. Bragg's Radio Telephone Operator because the regular RTO was ill. Leroy, 1LT Bragg, and another RTO, Sergeant James Michael Haider, went into the Ia Drang Valley with the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, to support their mission as forward artillery observers. None of the three returned to base camp alive.

I received Leroy's Individual Deceased Record File from the United States Army. The details contained within drew a picture of harsh combat action. Leroy received no less than nineteen penetration wounds in his lower extremeties and one penetration wound to his chest, and the final to his forehead. His death ruled as Homicide.

It has been told to me that Leroy was executed by the force that overan his position that day as the NVA rarely took prisoners, especially those who were wounded, yet this day they took serveral POW's who in my mind will NEVER be forgotten.

Leroy was with 1LT Fred Bragg through the entire action and left his side only when the radio he was carrying became useless due to incoming NVA mortar fire. This is when Leroy apparently ran acroos the field of battle, retrieved another radio, and returned to 1LT Bragg's side. Leroy later received more incomming fire as the enemy increased their attack and by this time Leroy's second radio was destroyed. Leroy then gathered the remaining ammunition for his rifle, "...fired his rifle till the magazine was empty then continued firing with his pistol until it was empty..." (excerpted from the Citation for the his Silver Star).

Leroy lay beside Fred Bragg and died at his side. I have spoken with Fred's brother and enjoyed exchanging stories of what we have both learned about our family members and their heroic actions.

Leroy is not forgotten. His surviving siblings want to know the truth, and give their heartfelt emotions to those remaining that bear the horrors of losing a family member. We thank all of you who served with Leroy, and wish you all the peace on earth. To those who died with Leroy, may you rest in peace eternally.

Steven and Tina (Carboneau) Pirkl
171 Patterson Street, Apartment 301, Anchorage, Alaska 99504

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 12 July 1967, the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, was engaged in the Ia Drang Valley by a battalion or larger force from the 66th NVA Regiment. When engaged, the 1/12's three rifle companies were physically separated, allowing the enemy force to attack the companies individually - B Company and C Company were isolated and taken under attack. Although C Company suffered only minor losses (5 wounded and none killed), B Company took heavy losses.

1st Lt Bragg had been with 1/12 Infantry for some months as the leader of an artillery Forward Observer team. When Captain Brian W Rushton, the B Company Commander, was killed, Bragg was directed to take command of the company. He did, and fought it with courage until he also was killed - one of 33 men who died that day.

Additional information and a full listing of the casualties is on
The Virtual Wall's C/1/12 Infantry Memorial

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his nephew,
Steven and Tina (Charboneau) Pirkl
171 Patterson Street, Apartment 301, Anchorage, Alaska 99504
31 Oct 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 11/09/2005