LEWANDOWSKI, LEONARD JOHN JR.
Name: Leonard John Lewandowski, Jr.
Rank/Branch: E2/US Marine Corps
Unit: Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Date of Birth: 20 March 1946
Home City of Record: Des Plaines IL
Date of Loss: 19 October 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 165400N 1071100E (YD344698)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Richard Mishuk, Michael J. Burke (both missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 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.
SYNOPSIS: Lance Corporal Michael J. Burke, PFC Leonard J. Lewandowski Jr.
and PFC Richard E. Mishuk were assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th
Marines in Vietnam. On October 19, 1966, their Marine Corps unit was
operating in northern Quang Nam Province about 15 miles northwest of Da Nang
when the three men went missing. Oddly, USMC notations indicate that the
three were swimming near the Cua Viet River when they were last seen, yet
the incident is considered battle-related. No one saw them drown or die; if
they were captured, no one witnessed it. The men were classified Missing in
Action, and their families waited for word.
The Burke family spoke with a member of the 1st Marines who was part of a
search party for the three. They were told that the unit tracked their son
for three months as the Viet Cong moved him from village to village.
The Mishuk family was told by Marine officials that it was "unusual to find
no bodies at all if all three drowned."
When American prisoners were released 6 1/2 years later, the Burke,
Lewandowski and Mishuk families were heartbroken that their sons were among
them. Military authorities at the time were shocked that hundreds known or
suspected prisoners of war were not released.
No information ever surfaced on the fates of Burke, Lewandowski and Mishuk.
By 1980, the U.S. declared them dead based on the fact that there was no
specific evidence that they were still alive. Disturbing testimony was given
to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of
Americans to return at politically advantageous times. The same source
indicated that he had also seen five Americans in captivity after the war
ended. This source was considered to be highly credible.
Even more disturbing are the over 10,000 reports received by the U.S.
relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have
examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the
conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia.
As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are
still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a
politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American
POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how
many are alive.
Whether the three Marines lost near Dong Ha on October 19, 1966 could be
among those thought to be still alive is not known. What is certain, however
is that as long as even one American remains alive, held against his will,
we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.