Rutherford, Waltz Hail Passage of Bill to Name St. Augustine VA Clinic After Vietnam War Hero

September 23, 2020
Press Release
Bipartisan legislation now heads to president’s desk for signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation, first introduced by Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04) and Congressman Michael Waltz (FL-06), to name a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in St. Johns County after Army Private First Class Leo C. Chase, Jr., the first man from St. Johns County to be killed in the Vietnam War. The new VA outpatient clinic will be designated as the “Leo C. Chase, Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.’’

“Private First Class Leo C. Chase, Jr., is an American hero,” said Rutherford. “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.”

“Army Private First Class Leo C. Chase Jr. is an inspiration to America and to our community,” said Waltz. “He was only five days from finishing his tour of duty in Vietnam when he and other troopers were airlifted to South Vietnam, where Chase lost his life. He fought and died for our country. It is more than fitting to have this new VA clinic providing top-notch care named in his honor, so all who enter will know his name and his story.”

Army Private First Class Leo C. Chase, Jr., was killed on November 15, 1965, in the Ia Drang battle dramatized in the book and film, We Were Soldiers. Chase was a rifleman in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. He flew into landing zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam, 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.