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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Leonard Lee Newton 1
Birth:
05 Apr 1948 1
Male 1
Death:
19 Jan 1968 1
Cause: Gun, Small Arms Fire 1
Age at Death: 19 1
Body Recovered: Recovered 1
Casualty Date: 19 Jan 1968 1
Casualty Type: Hostile, Died 1
Residence:
Hometown: Stockton, CA 1
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Marriage:
Marital Status: Single 1
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Vietnam War 1

Branch:
Marine Corps 1
Rank:
Private First Class 1
Battalion:
3rd Bn 1
Company:
I Co 1
Enlistment Type:
Regular 1
Grade:
E2 1
Major Command:
3rd Mar Div 1
Regiment:
26th Marines 1
Service:
Marine Corps 1
Specialty:
Rifleman (USMC) 1
Tour Start Date:
06 Dec 1967 1
Years Served:
0 1
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Race or Ethnicity:
Caucasian 1
Memorial Wall Location:
Line: 80 1
Panel: 34E 1

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SILVER STAR CITATION: The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Leonard L. Newton (2387353), Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Machine Gunner with Company I, Third battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 19 January 1968, Private First Class Newton's platoon engaged a North Vietnamese Army unit which was occupying positions on top of a hill. In the ensuing fire fight, the Marines sustained several casualties and were temporarily pinned down. Unhesitatingly moving to a forward position, Private First Class Newton commenced to direct fire against the enemy. Unable to adjust his fire because of the high grass, he repeatedly stood up and fired his weapon from the shoulder. Suppressing the fire from at least three enemy automatic weapons, he enabled his platoon to recover the wounded and maneuver to more advantageous positions. Disregarding his own safety, he continued to stand in the tall grass and provide covering fire for his companions until he was killed by the hostile fire. By his indomitable courage, aggressive fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty, Private First Class Newton upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

From official command chronology of I Co., 1st platoon, 3/26 Marines, January 1968: At 1215 Hrs I Co while on patrol in vic XD 769452, encountered accurate automatic weapons fire from approximately 25 NVA. The patrol broke contact and called in supporting arms. Results were 1 USMC KIA, 2 USMC WIA, and 3 NVA KIA (c).

PFC Newton's unit was assigned to defense of hills 861 and 881S adjacent to the Khe Sanh combat base during the 1968 Tet offensive, some of the most intense combat of the Vietnam War took place during that time there.

PFC Newton's platoon leader, 2LT Charles Schneider's Letter to His Parents, recounting the action in which he was killed: 4 Feb. 1968 Dear Mom and Dad, This letter is to explain more fully what's been going on over here. It's mainly a news letter and for sheer ease of writing I'm going to ask you to take the enclosed map, and overlays, and send them to the NROTC Unit with Bob to let them read it there. I think they will find it useful when dealing with current thoughts on tactics. Some of the goobledegoop you may not understand can be clarified by Maj. Chapman or one of the Marine options. Overlay #1 is of the friendly positions in the area 19 Jan. Mike Company moved into their position that day as I will describe. Before that time they were in Khe Sanh and India held both peaks of Hill 881S. 19 Jan. - 0800 2 squads from India's first platoon moved out on a patrol. The company commander asked me to accompany them since he had a hunch that we would make contact that day (although none had been made for quite some time except by recon units). Our mission was to recover a radio which a recon unit had dropped in the brush when they'd been ambushed. Before we got that far, we made point to point contact with an NVA patrol. Our patrol was moving in column (the thick vegetation made it the best for travel), the elephant grass was head high and therefore, since they were on higher ground, they were able to see us before we saw them. There was a sudden burst of automatic fire and two of our men fell wounded. We returned fire as best we could, but the rear of the column could not fire because of our own men in front. For the minute, the enemy had fire superiority and while they had us pinned down, they began to move people off to our left flank. One of our machine gunners (PFC. Leonard L. Newton) ran to the front to try and cover a withdrawal. The grass was so tall you couldn't see to fire unless you stood up, so he got to his feet and began to fire his M-60 from the shoulder. The enemy fire slackened and we began to pull back, dragging the wounded. Again the fire picked up and again he stood and fired from the shoulder. The fifth time he did this, a sniper shot him through the right eye. It was just about then that we started receiving heavy fire from our left flank. We were in a bad spot because they could see us from above, but the heavy grass prevented us from seeing them. The cross fire grew intense, but miraculously no one was injured. Then my rounds arrived, 105mm artillery from Khe Sanh. I began to pound the enemy to our north. Grabbing another radio, I called an 81mm mortar mission to our left. We still couldn't move since the rounds were landing so close that fragments from our own artillery and mortars were zinging over our heads. The enemy fire slackened considerably and we began to pull back to reorganize. The grass presented a problem. I had to stand to adjust fire, but I was not eager to follow the machine gunner to Valhalla, so I'd jump up - watch the rounds impact, then drop to a crouch and leap sideways as far as I could. When I rolled to a stop, I'd watch the AK-47 fire chew up the turf where I would have been had I dropped straight down. When we had pulled back about 200 meters and were in a better position to deliver fire, I called off the arty and brought in heavy gun ships who strafed and rocketed the area we'd been taking fire from. The rockets started a fire off to our left and we could hear the ammunition explode as the burning grass engulfed the NVA bodes which were laying there. Then I called in a napalm strike on the tree line just on the reverse slope of the hill we'd first taken fire from, again we saw several secondary explosions.

PFC Leonard Lee Newton was the oldest grandson of Shead & Edna Newton of Arvin, California. He was a Muscogee Creek Indian thru his grandmother's bloodline.

Died 19Jan68 Quang Tri Province (01) Republic of Vietnam result gunshot wounds to the head and body from hostile rifle fire while on patrol.

COMPANY PATROL 5 KM NORTHWEST OF KHE SANH CBT BASE 19680119

 

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