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VA clinic to be named for first St. Johns County soldier killed in Vietnam War

Pvt. First Class Leo C. Chase Jr.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Department of Veterans Affairs' new outpatient clinic in St. Johns County is expected to be named after Pvt. First Class Leo C. Chase Jr., the first man from St. Johns County to be killed in the Vietnam War.

This new VA outpatient clinic located on County Road 207 at Deerfield Preserve Boulevard is expected to open before the end of the year. Legislation just passed in the Senate is expected to be approved in the U.S. House and signed by President Donald Trump would designate it as the Leo C. Chase Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced this legislation in the Senate in May 2019. Reps. John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville) and Michael Waltz (R-Daytona Beach) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Chase was killed on Nov. 15, 1965, in the Ia Drang battle dramatized in the book and film, We Were Soldiers. Chase was a rifleman in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. He flew into landing zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border. The helicopter troops were immediately attacked by thousands of soldiers of the 320th, 33rd and 66th regiments of the North Vietnamese Army in a battle that lasted four days.

Outnumbered nearly 10 to one, Chase and the other members of his platoon bravely repulsed many massive ground assaults from the Viet Cong, all the while taking fire from enemy snipers.

In the end, Chase and many other members of his platoon lost their lives, but not without accomplishing their objective. The American lines held because of the courage and sheer determination of the Seventh Cavalry.

“At 23 years old Private Chase was killed while serving with an Airmobile unit in Vietnam just five days before he would have gone home. Private Chase’s life served as an inspiration to others before and after his death,” Rubio said. “While we can never repay his sacrifice to our nation, I am proud that the Senate has passed legislation that will name the new VA clinic in St. Augustine after an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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