Leon F. Rauch
(this tribute written by CDR Franklin W. Anderson, USN Ret.)
Leon Rauch was born in Oakland, California on 14 May
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 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
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 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.
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
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)