Full Name: WALLACE WILSON LEEPER
Date of Birth: 4/24/1947
Date of Casualty: 12/2/1967
Home of Record: WELLINGTON, COLORADO
Branch of Service: ARMY
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: PR & MR UNKNOWN
Name: CW3 Wallace Wilson Leeper
Status: Remains were returned on 1993 from an incident on 12/02/1967 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Declared dead on 07/17/1974.
Age at death: 20.6
Date of Birth: 04/24/1947
Home City: Wellington, Colorado
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: 48 AHC, 268 CAB
Major organization: USARV
Flight class: 67-9
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 31E-024
Short Summary: Left Tuy Hoa at night going to Ninh Hoa in bad weather. Crash site found 26 years later.
Aircraft: UH-1D tail number 66-00811
Call sign: Blue Star
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 062B = Helicopter Pilot, Utility and Light Cargo Single Rotor
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: unknown or not reported
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: pilot
Vehicle ownership: government
“Official” listing: helicopter air casualty – pilot
The initial status of this person was: non-hostile missing – bonified
Length of service: *
Location: Unknown Province
Military grid coordinates of event: CQ270341
Additional information about this casualty:
Crash site located and excavated in March 1993. Some personal effectrs and remains were recovered. No positive ID of crew at this time. Reunion 2001, July 2001. GBR. Editorial The Stillwater Courier News October 31, 2002 By JULIE KINK KINK100@aol.com
My friend Sherry buried her brother last week. Our experiences unite us, yet they are different. Both our brothers were helicopter pilots, and both were killed in Vietnam after serving only a short time. What my family did 33 years ago, Sherry's family did on October 24, 2002. I met Sherry through my work with the Family Contacts Committee of the Vietnam Helicopter Flight Crew Network, a dedicated group of a dozen volunteers stationed around the country, who assist family members and friends of Vietnam helicopter casualties who are seeking contact with veterans who served with their loved ones. Like all of us, Sherry wanted to find some of the brave men who did what her brother did in Vietnam, who could tell her more about him, his comrades, and their common bonds. Like those of us who have been fortunate enough to meet the men who served with our brothers, Sherry was able to find out about the day her brother's aircraft disappeared. But perhaps more important, in meeting his fellow aviators, she has become a “little sister” to a brotherhood forged in battle, a strong bond that transcends the bounds of time and place.
“Your brother was our brother” is what they tell us. And in them, we are able to see what our brothers may have become, had they lived.
Chief Warrant Officer Wally Leeper served with the 48th Assault Helicopter Company from September 1967 to December 2, 1967 when his Huey helicopter disappeared in marginal weather. Search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful. Leeper and his crew – Chief Warrant Officer Floyd Strange, Sergeants Manual Moreida and Richard Crosby – were considered missing in action until 1992, when Vietnamese nationals assisted in locating the crash site.
In June 2002, on the first anniversary of Sherry's initial contact with the men of her brother's unit, the 48th AHC “Bluestars,” she wrote, “Little did he know that 34 years later, his brothers in arms, the fine men of the 48th AHC that he served with, would reach out, and encircle his little sister in the warm embrace of their love, providing her with all that he would have, had he been here . . . For most of these many long years, the tears have remained buried, along with the loss and pain. Because of all of you, both the pain and the tears have been released.”
In August 2002, Sherry received confirmation that Wally's remains had been identified, as part of a group identification, and would be returned for a group internment at Arlington Cemetery.
So began a long trail of communications and arrangements with Mortuary Affairs, funeral directors, family members to notify, decisions to be made about burial arrangements and travel plans. The Arlington service was scheduled for Oct. 24, 2002. Sherry debated whether to bury Wally at Arlington, or in Colorado, near the grave of her parents, who didn't live to see their son “come home.” Loss reverberates over the years, like the ripples of a stone thrown in a pond, but the torment of not knowing the fate of a loved one strikes even deeper. For Sherry, doing the things that should have been done by others back when she was just nine years old, it felt like Wally died a second time. While there were some small remains positively identified to Wally in the casket at Arlington, Sherry also will be receiving individual remains that she will be able to place near the grave of her parents in Colorado.
“We will finally get to lay them all to rest,” Sherry wrote me in early October. “At present, I think there will be about 30 Bluestar brothers, my dear friend Pam is going with me, and my two cousins, Rick and Wayne, on my Dad's side of the family. . . I am so lucky to have all of these wonderful men to support me and to be there to honor my brother and all the crewmembers of Flight 811.”
How can I find the words to express my sympathy for a loss that has been echoing unresolved for 34 years? “You brought Wally home as surely as the flight that took him, finally, out of Vietnam,” I wrote Sherry. CW3 Wallace Wilson Leeper, of Wellington, Colorado, was 20 years old and married when he was killed. His name appears on line 24, panel 31 east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
My name is Sherry Leeper and I am the little sister of CWO2 Wallace Wilson Leeper. Their mission was to return a Korean Company Commander back to his troops. It was a night mission and there were heavy monsoon rains. The aircraft did not make it back and a seach was launched, but they were not found. They were missing in action for 26 years. Many years after the war, through interviews with Vietnamese nationals, my brother's dog tags, one of Dick Crosby's dog tags, and the crash site location were found.
They crashed near the top of a mountain near Tuy Hoa. The site was excavated in 1993, and 8 years later, 2 of the crew members were identified, one of those identified was my brother, and the Korean Company Commander was identified as well. There was a group burial in Arlington National Cemetary on October 24, 2002, and approx. 50 of the 48th AHC “BlueStars”, my brother's unit, were in attendance in order to lay to rest their beloved brothers in arms. I had the good fortune of finding the BlueStars in 2000, and they have since adopted me as their BlueStar “Little Sister”. Please correct this information so that others who visit your site may know what happened to my dear brother and his crew. Thank you and God bless you for remembering them. With best regards, Sherry Leeper at SherilynL@aol.com
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Non-hostile – died while missing
married male U.S. citizen
Religion: Protestant – no denominational preference
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: non-battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 12/13/2004
LEEPER, WALLACE WILSON
- CW3 US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 04/24/1947
- DATE OF DEATH: 12/02/1967
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 7763
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard