Tribute From Valor Remembrance Foundation Sculptor
Nov 14, 2002
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2012
Leroy Wright, Distinguished Service Cross, Killed During Roy Benavidez MOH Incident in Cambodia
Leroy Wright was the leader of a 12 man special operations recon team inserted secretly by helicopter into Northern Cambodia about 60 miles NW of Saigon. His mission was to capture an NVA truck and return with the truck to Vietnam with a load of Russian supplies to prove give physical proof that the Viet Cong were being supplied through Cambodia. Unfortunately Wright's team was landed in the midst of a large force of hundreds of NVA regulars deployed in depth around their landing zone. They were compromised when their hiding place was discovered by two NVA soldiers. Lloyd Mousseau, assistant team leader killed these men sliently but a shot was fired by one of them alerting the other NVA in the vicinity. Wright requested permission for extraction but was ordered to continue the mission by his superiors in Vietnam. He followed his orders and moved towards his objective, but soon encountered a patrol of about 12 NVA. In a brief but noisy fight his team wiped out the NVA partrol without any casualties to the team. He then immediately called for emergency extraction and rushed the team to the planned pickup zone. At the pickup zone Wright encountered numerous NVA troops and became locked in a fire fight which killed or wounded all of his men. The emergency extraction force, a flight of four UH1C gunships, call sign Maddogs, and four UH1H slicks, call sign Greyhounds, soon approached the pickup zone but it was driven away by intense and accurate enemy fire that killed one crew member, Michael Criag, and wounded others. On the ground Wright moved about his beleagured team encouraging them and repositioning them to defend the extraction landing zone. While redeploying one group of his men he was hit by enemy fire and lost the use of his legs. Then two enemy grenades fell between him and his teammates, endangering them all. Wright threw one back at the enemy but only had time to roll his body onto the second grenade before it exploded lifting him into the air. Wright survived this explosion and fought on for a time firing his weapon until he was killed by a shot in his head. Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez was assigned to support duties at the camp from which Wright's team had been launched. Over the radio he heard that the team was surrounded by hundreds of NVA, six team members were dead and the six survivors were all wounded. Benavidez was a close friend of Leroy Wright and felt that he owed his life to Wright from an earlier incident in which Wright took great personal risk to save him. It may have been thoughts of this that inspired Benavidez to rush to join the second rescue effort by the already battered helicopter flight from the 240th Assualt Helicopter Company. Unfortunately, when Benavidez arrived at the scene his friend Leroy Wright had already been killed. Benavidez ultimately received the Medal of Honor for his actions on that day. He never spoke of the incident without praising the valor of those who were there. He particularly praised Wright's valor and leadership of the team. Leroy Wright gave his life unselfishly in a desperate attempt to protect several team mates who happened to be indiginous mountain tribesmen and an ARVN interpretor, from the blast of a grenade. Some have asked why Wright was not awarded the Medal of Honor for this particular self sacrifical act. The officials writing his citation for the Distinguished Service Cross were apparently not aware of Wright's that act! The only surviving American witness on the ground was Wright's raido operator, Brian O'Connor. His eyewitness account did not come to official attention until many years after the event.
I became aware of Leroy Wright's valor while researching a project to create a memorial honoring Roy Benavidez, Leroy Wright and the members of his team, and the members of the 240th AHC which fought so valiently to rescue or return the team.
To do justice to this project we need information about Leroy Wright and his family. Wright left a widow with two small sons and we wish to communicate with them about his valor. We plan to preserve not just an image of Leroy Wright in the memorial, but also his personal history so that the legacy of his valor will never be forgotten.
All information received will by archived and published by Valor Remembered Foundation, a not for profit charity that is teamed with friends of Roy Benavidez family for the creation of this living memorial project.
Posted by: Mark Byrd Email: Relationship: Benavidez Memorial Sculptor Thursday, November 14, 2002