Rutherford, Waltz, Rubio Introduce Bill to Name St. Augustine VA Facility after Vietnam War Hero
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04), Congressman Michael Waltz (FL-06), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to name a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in St. Johns County after 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 located at 207 Stratton Road in St. Augustine, and this bill would designate it as the “Leo C. Chase, Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.’’ Groundbreaking for the clinic is expected in October.
“We owe our military and veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.” said Rutherford. “Through his actions in battle and his answer to the call of service, Private Chase displayed the honor and courage that characterizes so many of our Vietnam Era veterans. With this legislation, we make sure every person walking into that building remembers the life and legacy of Private Leo C. Chase, Jr.”
“I’m honored to recognize the first St. Johns County hero who sacrificed his life for our country in Vietnam,” said Waltz. “The Leo C. Chase Jr. clinic will expand and improve health care for Northeast Florida veterans who earned this commitment from their government.”
“At 23 years old Private Chase was killed while serving with an Airmobile unit in Vietnam just five days before he would have gone home. Private Chase’s life served as an inspiration to others before and after his death,” said Rubio. “While we can never repay his sacrifice to our nation, I am proud to introduce this legislation that will name the new VA clinic in St. Augustine after an American hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
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.