John Robertson

Staff member
Leslie A.
  • UNIT
5 SF Group (MACV-SOG) (RT Python)
  • RANK
Staff Sergeant
Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, 6 Bronze Stars with "V" Device, 9 Air Medals with "V" Device, 5 Army Commendation Medals, 6 Purple Hearts
Laos 1971
4 tours Vietnam
4 years Special Forces Group in Panama
1983 invasion of Grenada
trained Contras in Honduras
1987 retired as SGM (21 years service)
resided Idaho Falls, Idaho


Distinguished Service Cross : The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Staff Sergeant Leslie A. Chapman, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Command and Control (North), Task Force 1 Advisory Element, 5th Special Forces (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Staff Sergeant Chapman distinguished himself while serving as a member of Reconnaissance Team PYTHON, during the period 16 through 18 February 1971. On 16 February 1971, Reconnaissance Team PYTHON was inserted deep into enemy territory to set up surveillance and road blocks against North Vietnamese units operating against allied units at Khe Sanh. Intelligence of the area was unreliable but it was believed that a large concentration of enemy forces would be moving under cover of darkness. At 0230 hours, 17 February, Reconnaissance Team Python was probed by an estimated twenty North Vietnamese, nine of whom were killed. At this time heavy enemy troop movement was observed and reported from the Reconnaissance Team's vantage point. During the daylight hours of 17 February, Reconnaissance Team Python came under ever increasing enemy fire but refused extraction and continued to direct air strikes in an attempt to extract survivors of a helicopter crash which occurred 16 February. At 2100 hours, 17 February, Reconnaissance Team Python began receiving recoilless rifle and automatic weapons fire. At 0230, 17 February, the Reconnaissance Team was attacked on all sides by a numerically superior force and only after hours of heavy fighting were they able to repulse the enemy attack. At 0400 hours, 18 February, the enemy renewed their attacks, concentrating on the East side of the position. The eastern portion of the position was in danger of being overrun when Sergeant Chapman began employing a 60-mm. mortar as a direct fire weapon with devastating results. Although wounded, Sergeant Chapman continually exposed himself to enemy fire in his effort to bolster the eastern perimeter. Gunships firing within ten meters of the Reconnaissance Team's defensive position were employed. Shortly after daybreak on 18 February, Sergeant Chapman discovered approximately a squad of enemy soldiers attempting to flank the Reconnaissance Team's position,. Sergeant Chapman organized a defensive party of four and began to maneuver to intercept and ambush the enemy element. After the successful ambush had been executed, Sergeant Chapman fell back and reestablished a fighting position. The enemy element continued the attack and was met by a counterattack initiated by Sergeant Chapman. Under Sergeant Chapman's leadership, the defenders succeeded in routing the enemy element. At 0830 hours, the enemy launched a massive attack on the Reconnaissance Team's position and succeeded in gaining high ground above the Reconnaissance Team's position. During the assault a B-40 rocket exploded, throwing one of the indigenous soldiers several yards down the slope into the midst of advancing enemy troops. Sergeant Chapman, with complete disregard for his own safety, charged down the slope into the enemy's position killing four of them in close combat. Recovering the wounded soldier, he began to negotiate his way back to the Reconnaissance Team's position. Although wounded again himself, and knocked down by exploding grenades, he managed to carry the soldier back to the position where he administered first aid. During this time, he was continually exposed to heavy automatic weapons fire, grenades, rocket and small arms fire. After successfully repulsing the enemy attack the Reconnaissance Team was extracted and credited with 42 enemy killed and assisted in the destruction of 350 killed by air. Sergeant Chapman's extraordinary heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, reflects great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

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