Vernon Lee Leuning

Warrant Officer
Army of the United States
16 June 1946 - 04 March 1968
Yakima, Washington
Panel 42E Line 068


Army Aviator

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

The database page for Vernon Lee Leuning

12 Jul 2004

I was with Pete Tweedy the day he passed the Army Board and got accepted into flight school. I want to remember him and the three other men who died with him.

Ron Meyers

Valley Army Officer killed on third mission in Vietnam - Warrant Officer Vernon L. Leuning was killed by enemy gunfire in Vietnam 4 Mar (1968). The 21 year old helicopter pilot's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Leuning, Rt. 1, Zillah, were notified of their son's death Sunday. Flying his third mission in Vietnam Feb 6, WO Leuning was killed when a direct artillery hit struck his airborne craft near Saigon. Saturday, the Leunings received a letter from their son who described his first mission over enemy territory. On that mission, the helicopter crew had blown up an enemy bunker, a sampan, and a troop movement near Nha Be, south of Saigon. "He had prepared himself for death," the Army officer's father said, describing visits with his son when he was home on leave in January, "Six of his buddies had already died in Vietnam, and he knew it could happen to him." A graduate of Toppenish High School, WO Leuning entered the Army in June 1966, after completing two years of study at Yakima Valley College. He had basic training at Ft. Polk LA, flight instruction at Ft. Walters TX, and advanced training at Ft. Rucker, AL. WO Leuning was commissioned 30 Jun 1967, and was stationed at Ft. Knox KY. There he was a pilot for medivac, an Army organization which helicopter-lifted accident victims. At Ft. Knox he joined the newly formed A Troop of the 1st Air Cavalry. The body is being flown here for burial.

Yakima Morning Herald, Yakima WA 12 Mar 1968

Funeral Services - for Warrant Officer Vernon Lee Leuning, 21, who was killed in Vietnam, will be held today at 2pm in Hopkins Colonial Chapel, Toppenish, with full military honors. Internment will be in the Zillah Cemetery. W.O. Leuning, a helicopter pilot of the First Air Cavalry was shot down by enemy gunfire 4 Mar (1968), near Saigon. The young man was a graduate of Toppenish High School and completed two years at Yakima Valley College. He entered the service in June of 1966. He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley V. Leuning, Zillah, a brother Clinton Leuning, Portland OR, and his grandparents, Mrs. Inez Leuning, Zillah, and Mr. and Mrs. Lynard Sears, Mabton.

Yakima Morning Herald, Yakima WA 26 Mar 1968

Courtesy of
Darilee Bednar

Faces from the Wall

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Four men died on the night of 04/05 March 1968 when their UH-1C gunship (tail number 64-14158) was hit by friendly fire at Phouc Vinh. The camp came under attack and two UH-1Cs launched to provide fire support. While overhead at about 1500 feet, the lead gunship was hit by a mortar shell fired by the defenders (not the enemy), exploded, crashed, and burned. The dead were A Troop, 7th Sqdn, 1st Cavalry, had arrived in-country in late February, and Warrant Officer Leuning was on temporary assignment to the 162nd AHC for combat familiarization.

Oddly, the casualty record for WO Leuning reflects a date of death on 04 March, while the 162nd AHC's helicopter loss record and casualty records for their three men show the loss on 05 March 1968.

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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 08/10/2009