Leal Middle School
In the same general area of town where the Edgewood and Kelly monuments stand is another
memorial -- perhaps the best kind. It is Leal Middle School, a living monument dedicated
to education and progress. Formerly called Southcross Junior High School, after the street
on which it is located, Leal was renamed in honor of a former student who was killed in
Vietnam. The school is in the Harlandale Independent School District, a working-class area
of South San Antonio. Leal Middle School is the first and, so far, only institution in the
city to bear the name of a Vietnam vet.
Display at Leal Middle
School in honor of Armando, photo by Jim Pierce
(click to enlarge)
I understand that Armando G. Leal Jr. was well-liked and considered a "good guy"
around his tough Southside neighborhood. A photo of the smiling young man posing proudly
in his Navy uniform is displayed in a glass case near the school's main office. Also
displayed is a copy of the citation that accompanied Leal's Navy Cross.
(Please click here to jump to the Citation).
The citation reads in part: "Armando G. Leal, Jr., Hospital Corpsman Third Class,
U.S. Navy, awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism on 4 Sep 67 while
serving as a corpsman with the 2nd platoon, Company "M", 3rd Battalion, 5th
Marines, 1st Marine Division (REIN), FMF . . . "
The citation goes on to describe how Leal went to the aid of Marines who had been cut down
in an ambush during Operation Swift. Although he suffered a number of wounds himself he
refused any treatment and continued to work on his comrades. But in helping others he left
himself vulnerable to attack and was killed by an North Vietnamese Army machine gunner.