Richard Laughlin O'Leary

Second Lieutenant
United States Marine Corps
19 October 1943 - 25 September 1967
Boston, Massachusetts
Panel 27E Line 012


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Richard Laughlin O'Leary

10 Feb 2001

I met Richard on a hot July or August evening at Phu Bai in the officers' tent. He and I had been in Officers Basic school together. After graduation he got married and then he went on to artillery school where he explained he got his training to be an aerial observer. We were glad to see each other as we had been catching up on news of our other classmates since we graduated the previous November. He explained it was his first day in Viet Nam and he was going on his first mission to fly over the DMZ the next day. He spoke very lovingly of his wife of a few months and hoped to see her when he could get R and R. We made plans to see each other again the next night at the same place.

The next night came and went, but he didn't show up. I made a few inquires and learned that on his first mission he was killed by a large caliber round that hit him in the passenger seat but missed the pilot.

I will never forget Richard O'Leary. He was a serious yet fun filled guy that placed this country's needs above his own and his future family's.

Semper Fi.

Walter (Tim) Pitchford, USMC 1966-
13727 Oakridge Road, Carmel, In 46032

05 Oct 2006

God Bless him and his family. Thank you for the service and sacrifice.

From an appreciative American.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

When this memorial was first published The Virtual Wall could not identify the incident in which 2ndLt O'Leary died. Since then, a tremendous number of Marine Corps documents has been made available on the Internet by the Texas Tech Vietnam Project. Among them are the following:
  • The 4th Bn, 12th Marines Command Chronology which acknowledges one man killed in action on 25 Sept "by automatic weapons fire" without giving further details.

  • A 12th Marines message 251905Z SEP 67, the Situation Report 25 Sep 67 which says
    "12th Marines AOs flew 6 missions for 13.9 hours and conducted 4 arty missions, 2 visual recons, and one convoy cover. 1 AO KIA as a result of hostile fire vicinity Gio Linh."

  • The 1st Marine Air Wing Command Chronology, which says
    "25 September: 2ndLt R. O'LEARY, air observer in an O-1C, was killed when a burst of .50 caliber fire hit the aircraft during a mission north of Con Thien."

  • The Marine Air Group 16 Command Chronology which notes
    "25 September - In the Dong Ha area an H&MS-16 O-1C was hit by enemy fire at coord YD137565, one fatality."

  • The H&MS-16 Command Chronology which says
    "1245H - Visual recon for Plumness in grid squares YD2478 and YD2778 for artillery. Visual recon north of fire break. Took .50 cal fire and small automatic weapons fire from YD1375. Aircraft took 3 hits, Aerial Observer was killed in action by .50 cal high explosive round. Took hits at 1770' heading 250 degrees. Took aircraft back to Dong Ha immediately."

The H&MS-16 entry is taken verbatim from the post-flight report:

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Feb 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009