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Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

RVN, 1966 -1971
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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.

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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.