Darel Dean Leetun

Lieutenant Colonel
United States Air Force
24 December 1932 - 12 March 1975
Hettinger, North Dakota
Panel 10E Line 107

7TH AF F-105D 13TH TFS
Air Force Cross

USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Darel Dean Leetun

30 Apr 2005

Welcome home, Sir.

From a fellow serviceman.
E-mail address is not available.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 17 Sep 1966 then-Captain Leetun was flying F-105D tail number 62-4280 on a strike against rail and road bridges near Kep, North Vietnam. According to Hobson's "Vietnam Air Losses" Leetun's aircraft was hit as the flight approached the Cao Nung road bridge 17 miles northeast of Kep and immediately crashed. According to the Citation for the Air Force Cross awarded to Captain Leetun, his aircraft was hit before bomb release but he continued to attack the target and crashed afterwards.

Hobson gives Captain Leetun's unit as the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, but the USAF casualty list and the Air Force Cross Citation both state he was assigned to the 13th TFS. Both the 469th and 13th TFS were part of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat RTAFB, Thailand.

In either case, Leetun was not seen to eject before impact and no contact was made with him after the crash. He was classed as Missing in Action and was carried in that status, gaining promotion twice, until the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death on 12 March 1975.

The DoD Personnel Missing Southeast Asia (PMSEA) database now reflects that his remains were repatriated on 12 April 1995 with identification announced on 17 March 2005 - home again 38 years after his last flight.

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the



United States Air Force

for service as set forth in the following


The Air Force Cross is presented to Darel Dean Leetun, Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force over North Vietnam on 17 September 1966. On that date, Captain Leetun led a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs against a heavily defended high priority target near Hanoi. Undaunted by intense and accurate flak, deadly surface-to-air missiles, and hostile MiGs, Captain Leetun led his flight through this fierce environment to the crucial target. On the bomb run, Captain Leetun's Thunderchief was hit by hostile fire, becoming a flaming torch and nearly uncontrollable; however, Captain Leetun remained in formation and delivered his high-explosive ordnance directly on target. After bomb release, Captain Leetun's plane went out of control and was seen to crash approximately 10 miles from the target area. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Captain Leetun reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009