Historic City News received word this morning that bi-partisan legislation has been sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval that will authorize a new, local veterans clinic being constructed at 207 Stratton Road in St. Johns County, to be named in honor of the late Army Private First-Class Leo C. Chase, Jr.
Chase, formerly of St Augustine, was the first man from St. Johns County to be killed in the Vietnam War on November 15, 1965. The US House of Representatives passed the legislation first introduced by Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04) and Congressman Michael Waltz (FL-06)
“Private First-Class Leo C. Chase, Jr., is an American hero,” Rutherford told local reporters. “Northeast Florida is proud to tell the story of his courage in the face of battle and to honor his sacrifice on behalf of our country and freedom. I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation into law, ensuring every person walking into the St. Augustine VA clinic remembers the life and legacy of Private First Class Leo C. Chase, Jr.”
Chase was only five days from finishing his tour of duty in Vietnam when he and other troopers were airlifted to South Vietnam, where he lost his life. Chase was a rifleman in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. The battle in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam, is dramatized in the book and film, “We Were Soldiers”.
Private First-Class Chase flew into landing zone X-Ray at Ia Drang, near the Cambodian border. The helicopter troops were immediately attacked by thousands of soldiers of the 320th, 33rd, and 66th regiments of the North Vietnamese Army in a battle that lasted four days.
Outnumbered nearly ten to one, Chase and the other members of his platoon bravely repulsed many massive ground assaults from the Viet Cong, all the while taking fire from enemy snipers. In the end, Chase and many other members of his platoon lost their lives, but not without accomplishing their objective. The American lines held because of the courage and sheer determination of the Seventh Cavalry.
“It is more than fitting to have this new VA clinic providing top-notch medical care in his honor,” Congressman Waltz added. “He fought and died for our country. Now all who enter will know his name and his story.”