Hanawald, Len Martin, LTC

 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
1542-Infantry Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Officer)
Primary Unit
1969-1969, 1542, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1957 - 1969


Special Forces

Lieutenant Colonel

Three Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New Mexico
New Mexico
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ Mark E Cooper to remember Hanawald, Len Martin, LTC.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Sep 03, 1969
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Quang Tri (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
18W 028/Plot: Section 46 Site 189-5

 Official Badges 

101st Airbone Division

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Parachutist (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment
  1969-1969, 1542, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1953-1957, United States Military Academy
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
LTC Len Hanawald was a very impressive officer when he reported into the 2nd Battalion 506th Infantry in the late Spring of 1969 as the new Battalion Commander. I was a very young Company Commander (22 years old - OCS Graduate) on my second tour, and just adjusting to my new responsibilities when Len Hanawald arrived at Camp Evans (about an hour north of Hue) in I Corps.
At that time the Battalion and Brigade Commanders in the 101st Airborne were allowed to select their own call signs, and our new commander selected "Airborne". Such a macho call sign seemed a little silly, since he was such a small guy, maybe five foot five, and weighed maybe 120 pounds soaking wet. But Len Hanawald had served his first Viet Nam tour with Special Forces, and it was clear from the first day that he understood the "ins and outs" of small unit tactics.
"Airborne" was also a officer who didn't hesitate to pack his rucksack and spend a few days "in the field" with his rifle companies. He was small and wiry, but he was as strong as barbed wire. Normally Battalion Commanders lived on the Fire Support Bases with the Battalion Headquarters, which were "rustic" to say the least. But on the Fire Bases at least you had a dry place to sleep at night, one hot meal a day, and place to wash up. But going "to the field" with a rifle company meant giving up those "luxuries". Everything you owned, you carried on your back in your rucksack, and normally the only uniform you had was the one you were wearing. If you were lucky your company found time once a week to stop in a local stream, set up security, so everyone could bath (in shifts naturally) and wash their fatigues.
Len Hanawald was also unusual in that he talked to everyone, officers, sergeants and soldiers. And even more important he listened to everyone, and was able gather many good ideas from these conversations. He was very approachable, and when you were talking with him, he always made you feel very comfortable and important. Len was a natural teacher and coach, and helped many of us not in our military duties but also in other parts of our lives. "Airborne" made a huge difference in the Battalion, not only in more effective military operations, but also in the "organizational culture". It was a very positive organization, a true "band of brothers", and we were all very proud to be members.
In early September 1969 "Airborne" was killed during an aerial reconnaissance mission. Generally Battalion Commanders didn't take part in this type of front line mission, but "Airborne" was a different type of Battalion Commander. He was always trying to see what was happening with his own eyes, so he could make the best plans for "his boys". There were only two in that observation helicopter: the pilot, and Len Hanawald who was acting as the observer/gunner. They were scouting an area along the base of the mountains to the west of Camp Evans, when they discovered a Viet Cong guerrilla in the high grass. The helicopter was only 20-30 feet off the ground, and "Airborne" had this VC guerrilla covered with his M-16, and could have easily killed him by just squeezing the trigger. But "Airborne" always told us that prisoners are more valuable than bodies, so he was intent on capturing this guerrilla. "Airborne" wanted to give the pilot instructions to land, but was having trouble finding the microphone button (located on the floor in this helicopter) and he took his eye off of the guerrilla for just a second. But just a second was all the time it took for this Viet Cong to reach down and pick up his AK-47 rifle and spray the small helicopter with 30 rounds of automatic fire. "Airborne" was hit more than once in the torso, but the pilot only had minor scrapes and was able to fly the damaged helicopter back to the medievac hospital at Camp Evans. Len Hanawald was still alive when they got to the Medievac Hospital, but he had lost too much blood, and died on the operating table.
It was a sad day. Each of us felt that we had lost not only a Commander, but a man who truly understood us, and cared for us. A good man, gone too soon. Len died in September of 1969, but his example lives on with all of his military brothers.
I Am Not Dead
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am diamond glints of snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds encircled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
Lyrics by Mary Frye (1932) and Wilbur Skeels (1996)
James Stevens Roach
Col (Retired)
Vietnam Wall Panel coords 18W 028
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