LEE, LEONARD MURRAY Remains Identified 07/27/00
Name: Leonard Murray Lee Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy Unit: Fighter Squadron 114, USS KITTY HAWK (CVA 63) Date of Birth: 08 July 1935 Home City of Record: Pulaski VA Date of Loss: 27 December 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 10600N 1054400E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B Refno: 0952 Others In Incident: Roger B. Innes (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.
REMARKS: DEAD/IR 1516 0461 71
SYNOPSIS: LtCdr. Leonard Lee had one of the most sought jobs for a pilot. He flew aboard the F4 Phantom fighter jet. The aircraft saw so much combat in Vietnam that during the two year period of 1965 and 1966, 54 F4C's were lost. The C, D and E versions also downed 107 enemy MiGs. The Phantom's combat radius exceeded 900 miles and featured a maximum level speed of over Mach 2. Its navigation system was comprehensive and could guide the aircraft at a wide variety of levels and speeds.
The navigation and bombing equipment was mostly operated by the "guy in back", the second man aboard. When Lee flew on an armed reconnaissance mission two days after Christmas 1967, his backseater was LTJG Roger B. Innes.
Lee and Innes were to fly the lead aircraft in a section of two at Cap Falaise, North Vietnam. Lee reported a target, but had to position himself for a better strike angle due to poor weather. At this time his wingman was able to release his ordnance on the target. Radio communications with Lee's aircraft confirmed the strike.
Lee began his bombing run immediately behind his wingman and was lost from the radar scope of the E2A radar control aircraft. No further contact was made with his aircraft. The wingman was unable to observe Lee due to his relative position and the overcast weather in the area, and proceeded out to sea in accordance with their mission briefing in case of emergency. A search and rescue effort was initiated but to no avail. No wreckage was sighted, and no emergency radio beacons were heard in the strike area. No anti-aircraft fire had been seen in the target area.
Lee and Inne's aircraft went down about 50 miles west and slightly south of the city of Thanh Hoa in Nghe An Province, North Vietnam. Both men were classified Missing In Action. No one knew for sure if they bailed out successfully or died when their plane went down. A later intelligence report indicated that they were dead, but that information was never substantiated. The two remained missing, and their fates uncertain.
Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing from American involvement in Indochina. Evidence continues to mount that some of them are alive and held captive. The tragedy is that these men who willingly served their country were abandoned - and know it. Isn't it time we brought them home?
Leonard M. Lee was promoted to the rank of Captain, and Roger B. Innes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during the period they were maintained missing.
======================================= National League of Families UPDATE LINE: September 8, 2000
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This message is being recorded on Friday, September 8th. The number of Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is now 2,005.
Today, the Department of Defense released the names of eight of nine US personnel now accounted for, six previously missing in Laos and three in Vietnam. These Americans include CDR Leonard M. Lee of VA and LCDR Roger B. Innes of IL, both US Navy, missing in North Vietnam since December 27, 1967. The Defense Department did not publicly release CDR Lee's name at the request of his next-of-kin; however, members of Commander Lee's family were quoted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch September 4th edition regarding his identification. Others include Lt Col Donald E. Paxton of IA and Maj Charles Macko of NY, both US Air Force, missing in Laos since February 2, 1969; Capt Stephen P. Hanson of CA, 1st Lt Jon G. Gardner of NC and Sgt Timothy R. Bodden of IL, USMC, and Army GySgt Billy R. Laney of FL, all missing in Laos since June 3, 1967; and Army CWO1 William A. Smith, Jr., of MI, missing in South Vietnam since September 2, 1968.
The accounting for these nine Americans brings the number still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War to 2,005, 1511 in Vietnam, 421 in Laos, 65 in Cambodia and 8 in the territorial waters of the PRC. Nearly 85% of all Americans lost in Laos and Cambodia were in areas then under wartime Vietnamese control; therefore, it is to Vietnam that we look for archival records and witnesses to assist in accounting for them....