Leon F. Rauch
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It was on 7 October 1966, at approximately 1900, that the Mighty Moe received mortar
fire from the riverbank. This occurred during ambush and search operation on
the upper Dong Tranh River, about 1/2 mile from the North
Junction of the Long Tau River. The SEALs received a direct mortar hit, and
even though many were injured, they returned stifling fire and gave the VC
everything they had until no more fire was being received. The machine guns
barrels were red hot and you could see the dark bullets as they raced down the
Sixteen men were
wounded, three seriously, LTJG William Pechacek - serious head wounds, EN1
Robert Henry - spinal injury, and SA John H. Penn - loss of one eye and
multiple frag wounds. Leon was one of the others that had
multiple fragment wounds. All were MEDIVACED to the Third Field Hospital in Saigon.
Leon was supposed to be
confined to his bunk, but upon inspection by the floor nurse, he was missing. A
search of the floor was made by a nurse who found him in the shower completely
nude doing pushups. The nurse didn't know what to do so she said, "the
girl is gone now, you can go back to your bunk and stay there."
Leon soon returned to duty. Prior to
being inserted he would silently disappear below deck and methodically
experiment with his make-up kit and apply his camouflage to suit the environment.
It wasn't unusual for Leon to pop up and shout: "Ta Da -
how does this look?" He was a perfectionist. Leon and his platoon returned
to Coronado on 10 November 1966.
Upon their return the
hardest decision was to break up this outstanding group of men into different
assignments. Some were sent TAD UDTRA to help incorporate SEAL functions/tactics into the training
curriculum. This was also done in anticipation of drafting SEAL candidates directly from training
by having moles to insure selection of the best trainees. Others were given
inexperienced men to train and operate with prior to another deployment, and
some were incorporated into the SEAL Training Cadre. The Cadre had two
functions: to teach basic SEAL indoctrination and to instruct
advanced tactics and the basics of working with the Provincial Reconnaissance
Units and Kit Carson Scouts.
Roger Moscone was
assigned as CMAA and Leon was his assistant with a dual role
of instructing certain phases of training at Camp Machen. His specialty was "Quick
Kill", which was a technique involving instinct shooting. Leon would have someone throw half
dollars or washers in the air to shoot at and hit. This was, of course, very
impressive during training demonstrations and really got the attention of the
trainee. The combination of Roger Moscone and Leon on the MAA force resulted in
one squared away Team, and their response to all tasks and functions, resulted
in an effective and cohesive group.
During the early days in
SEAL Team, the men had very little time
at home with their families. They were either in some phase of training, away
at schools, participating with the Cadre, training new recruits, acting as
aggressors for team operations or training with their new platoon members. A
lot of night problems and patrolling on Otay Mesa resulted in excellent
practice for prisoner handling and interrogation of the many Mexican aliens
routinely apprehensive. That is until word was received to cease such activity,
because the use of military forces against nationals from a friendly country
could be misinterpreted. Leon excelled on these patrols.
On 6 May 1967 Leon was once again headed back to DaNang, Vietnam with a SEAL MTT to MACSOG. Leon had barely gotten into the RVN when
he volunteered for a special mission and subsequently received the Navy
Commendation Medal with Combat "V". The Citation reads as follows:
performance of duty while serving with SEAL Team ONE, Detachment ECHO, in the Republic of Vietnam, during the months of June and July
1967. Petty Officer RAUCH distinguished himself as a member of a four-man joint
service team assigned to test the feasibility of an unusual and highly classified
type of reconnaissance mission deep in enemy territory. Petty Officer RAUCH
volunteered for the assignment and for several weeks prior to the mission, the
team diligently tested and evaluated equipment and tactics under realistic
conditions. One night rehearsal was conducted under extremely hazardous and
trying circumstances. His experience in water and jungle operations accumulated
over several years with Underwater Demolition Team ELEVEN and SEAL Team ONE allowed him to offer many
highly useful suggestions during the planning phase of the operation. The team
was inserted by the same means late the next morning. Petty Officer RAUCH
served as point man throughout the entire mission. The information which the
team provided concerning enemy activities and the feasibility of this unique
type of reconnaissance mission was of substantial value to higher authority and
will undoubtedly be used in the planning of similar missions in the future.
Petty Officer RAUCH's courage, skill and physical endurance were in keeping
with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Leon and Roger returned
to Coronado on 17 October 1967 and resumed duties as CMAA and
assistant and also working with the SEAL Training Cadre. On 26 March 1968
Leon was TAD to Underwater Swim School in Key West, Florida, when the U.S.
Naval Ordnance Laboratory, White Oak, Maryland, needed someone to do a special
SECRET Mission. Leon volunteered and the following
comments personify his performance. "The shots in the canal were good
enough that there is no question about whether the (item) can be used at
maximum range. In fact, the whole program was more successful than I had figured
it would be. You did an excellent job." Leon returned to SEAL Team on 10 May 1968, just three
days after completion of the special mission, done in typical Rauch fashion.
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