Leonard Richard Demko

HMM-364, MAG-36, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
15 July 1938 - 05 February 1968
Pottsville, PA
Panel 37E Line 034


Naval Aviator

DFC, Purple Heart, Air Medal (multiple awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Leonard R Demko

The database page for Leonard Richard Demko

21 Jul 2003

On Friday, 05 Feb 1968, a CH-46A (BuNo 153986) from Phu Bai was tasked for a medical evacuation flight in the vicinity of Hue City to pick up three seriously wounded Marines. The aircraft was crewed by

While enroute, the aircraft was fired upon by enemy troops. HM1 Ehrhardt was hit by a round which penetrated his right thigh, destroyed the hip socket, and exited from his right buttock. Acting on Ehrhardt's instructions, one of the gunners packed Ehrhardt's entry and exit wounds, splinted his leg with Ehrhardt's M-14, and injected a syrette of morphine. Ehrhardt was placed on a stretcher near the CH-46's rear ramp. After consultation with Ehrhardt, Major Demko continued the mission. As the aircraft approached the pick-up point it again took fire, this time wounding one of the gunners and seriously damaging the aircraft's hydraulic and fuel systems. Although prone on the stretcher, Ehrhardt was able to tend to the gunner's wound. Because of the damage to the aircraft, Demko aborted the mission and attempted to return to Phu Bai.

He was unsuccessful. The CH-46 entered an uncontrolled pitch-up, rolled inverted, crashed, and burned. Demko, Burke, Shelton, and Copeland died in the crash. HM1 Ehrhardt and Cpl Conner were picked up by their wingman, but Conner died of his injuries 15 days later at the USAF Hospital in Cam Rahn Bay. HM1 Ehrhart was evacuated to the 106th Army Hospital in Yokohama, Japan, and eventually recovered from his injuries.

These men, and the other Purple Foxes who served in Vietnam, are remembered by the women who waited at home, whether mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, or friends. Those women, the

Purple Foxy Ladies
Purple Foxy Ladies

continue to support today's Purple Foxes of HMM-364 as they serve our country.

the Purple Foxes

on-line or go to our unit page
on The Virtual Wall

A memorial initiated by the
Purple Foxy Ladies

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Aircraft Commander of a UH-34 transport helicopter with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, in the Republic of Vietnam on the evening of 19 November 1967. While returning to its base after a search and rescue mission in support of a large helicopter borne assault force, Major Demko's helicopter was diverted to an emergency medical evacuation mission in support of a Marine rifle company. He arrived over the designated area and approached the landing zone. Just prior to landing, his aircraft came under intense enemy automatic weapons fire and was directed away from the site by the ground force. Orbiting over An Hoa and establishing radio contact with the Marine unit, Major Demko was informed that the wounded Marines were being moved to the landing zone. Then, after an hour, he was requested to return to the hazardous area for the evacuation. In complete darkness and guided by a single strobe light, he skill- fully landed in the zone as a heavy volume of tracer fire passed just above the rotor blades of his aircraft. Embarking six wounded Marines, he lifted from the site and, effectively utilizing the terrain as cover from the hostile fire, moved beyond range of the enemy's weapons before gaining altitude for the return flight to a medical facility. His exceptional ability and determined efforts were an inspiration to all who served with him and were instrumental in accomp- lishing the hazardous mission. Major Demko's courage, superb airmanship and unswerving devotion to duty at great personal risk were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

For the President

/s/ L. F. Chapman, Jr.
Commandant of the Marine Corps

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Major Demko had served one tour in Vietnam with HMM-162 in 1963. On 10 March 1963 he and Major David Webster flew a rescue mission in a UH-34D (BuNo 145747 or 145085; both were lost that day) to retrieve some Army pilots who were down in the mountains west of Danang. The rescue effort was at the outermost limits of the UH-34's performance envelope - very high altitude, very hot, high humidity - and the rescue cable was shorter than the trees were tall. Demko had to "squat down" amongst the treetops to rescue the downed crew. During the attempt, they exceeded the power capabilities of the H-34, lost lift, crashed, and burned.

Demko, Webster, and the crew chief were burned very badly, and a passenger aboard the aircraft died - Army Warrant Officer James H. Ishihara. There was insuffient daylight for another attempt, and it was the next day before a stripped down UH-34 could make a pick-up. Major Webster did not make it through the night.

Demko recovered from his injuries, returned to flying, and came back to Vietnam with HMM-364.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
HMM-364 and the Purple Foxy Ladies,
Frank Gulledge, point man
21 Jul 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 09/15/2003