Leon F. Rauch

(this tribute written by CDR Franklin W. Anderson, USN Ret.)

Leon Rauch was born in Oakland, California on 14 May 1938. He graduated from Alameda High School in 1956 and enlisted in the U. S. Navy on 6 March 1957 in San Francisco, CA. He completed recruit training in San Diego, CA and then attended Radar School. In September, he reported on board the USS BUCK (DD761) as a Seaman Apprentice (SA). He remained there until March 1960 and reported to Coronado, CA for UDTRA Class 24 as a BM3.

Class 24

Class 24 commenced with 64 members and only eight graduated. Leon was assigned to UDT-11. He took great pride in his physical abilities and was soon identified as a strong runner and exceptional diver who was quick to comprehend a problem and come to a logical solution. It wasn't unusual to be SCUBA diving around 100 feet and look up and see Leon free diving and tooling around. He would reach over and buddy breath a few short breaths and casually go on about his business.

In UDT-11 Leon was assigned as coxswain of one of the (Team's) five LCPR's, and he made sure it was always ready and the sharpest boat in the Team. Leon made a knot board and canvas cover for the LCPR and it was really unique. If a swimmer happened to be messing around and fouled the boat, a swab or paintbrush was immediately placed in his hands; needless to say, he had discipline on his boat.

Leon Rauch

Leon was a proud sailor and always trying to prove himself to his father who happened to be a Chief in the Navy at the same time. He was very competitive and professional, but could also get into mayhem on the beach. When in top shape, Leon was 72 inches tall and weighed approximately 165 pounds. He was at times mistaken for James Coburn, and on a demonstration at Squaw Valley he had many of the spectators believing that he actually was the famous movie actor. Leon had to be kept busy or he would find something to get into. He always volunteered for demonstrations, operations, or deployments. The vistas of new horizons always whetted his appetite for adventures. In UDT-11 he was involved in many of the "Cable Jobs" at Wake Island, Coo's Bay, Oregon; Pacific Beach, Washington and numerous WESTPAC deployments. While on a WESTPAC deployment in 1966 his detachment was involved in "Operation JACKSTAY" in the Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ). Although the operation was somewhat a disaster, Leon's lust for combat was stimulated. Upon return to CONUS, he volunteered for SEAL Team ONE where he quickly got orders to "Quick Kill School" in Fort Benning, GA.

In March 1966, Captain Bucklew received word from COMNAVFORV expressing displeasure with the SEAL detachment at Vung Tau, and indicating that he wanted them replaced.

Captain Bucklew persuaded the Admiral to wait until the next detachment arrived to evaluate them and assured him they would be the best men he had. Captain Bucklew called in LCDR Anderson, who was NOSG Ops Officer, related this information, and directed him to start selecting officers and men for this soon to be Detachment GOLF. Further, that LCDR Anderson would be acting Commanding Officer of SEAL Team ONE henceforth, and Commanding Officer upon his return.

LCDR Anderson worked with LCDR J. Maxie Stephenson and hand picked each of the officers and men. LT Maynard Weyers was selected to be Det. GOLF OIC and Leon was one of the men in the operational platoons. Through the leadership and operational capabilities of LT Weyers and the men of Det. GOLF, they set an outstanding example of what SEALs were capable of doing in the swamps and canals of the RSSZ. They were accomplishing long-range patrolling, ambushes on waterways, and collecting valuable intelligence material as well as disrupting VC supply lines and destroying tons of rice and other material.

Leon was intricately involved in all of these missions. He played a dual role by going on platoon operations and also serving as coxswain of the "Mighty Moe", a SEAL fabricated LCM with extensive armor plating and firepower. Leon was coxswain on 19 August 1966 when they inserted LT Tom Truxell's squad to investigate a suspected VC installation. It was during this mission that Billy Machen was killed as he drew the fire to himself to save his teammates. Roger Moscone carried Billy out and Leon beached the LCM to expedite the recovery. The SEALs renewed operations with a vengeance, and were really stacking up body counts and material and directing larger scale ops from intelligence they had collected. The VC were becoming acutely aware of the "Men With Green Faces."

(Continued - go to Page 2)

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