PFC Leslie Allen Bellrichard
BY DUANE A VACHON, PH.D. Bellrichard was born on December 4 1941 at Janesville Wisconsin. When he was in his early teens his family moved to San Jose California. San Jose was to become his hometown and it was from there (Oakland) he joined the Army.
Whilst I did not know Bellrichard, I was with MACV serving in Pleiku Province, South Vietnam on May 20 1967 and involved in the same conflict in which he bravely gave his life. Ironically our paths have crossed again; I live between two homes, one in Honolulu, and the other in San Jose.
San Jose lost not only Bellrichard but another 141 of its sons to the Vietnam War. While many communities have chosen to honor Medal of Honor recipients, Rock County where his birth city is has voted not to. The city supervisors voted 20 to 4 not to rename the Lower Courthouse Park in honor of the Medal of Honor recipient. The City of San Jose, Bellrichard’s adopted home town on the other hand, created a memorial to the 142 sons of the city who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War. Bellrichard’s name is engraved on a elegant hunk of black granite, along with 141 local names who made the ultimate sacrifice. It will help the public honor those soldiers. Bellrichard was 25 years, 5 months and 16 days old when he died. Should your travels bring you to San Jose, why not take some time and visit the memorial and thank these fellows.
Bellrichard joined the Army from Oakland, California in 1966 and by May 20, 1967 was serving as a private first class in Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. During a firefight on that day, in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, he was preparing to throw a hand grenade when a nearby explosion caused him to drop the activated device. Bellrichard smothered the blast of the grenade with his body. Although severely wounded Bellrichard struggled into an upright position in the foxhole and fired his rifle at the enemy until he succumbed to his wounds, sacrificing himself to protect those around him.
Medal of Honor citation
Private Bellrichard’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Acting as a fire team leader with Company C, during combat operations Pfc. Bellrichard was with 4 fellow soldiers in a foxhole on their unit’s perimeter when the position came under a massive enemy attack. Following a 30-minute mortar barrage, the enemy launched a strong ground assault. Pfc. Bellrichard rose in face of a group of charging enemy soldiers and threw hand grenades into their midst, eliminating several of the foe and forcing the remainder to withdraw. Failing in their initial attack, the enemy repeated the mortar and rocket bombardment of the friendly perimeter, then once again charged against the defenders in a concerted effort to overrun the position. Pfc. Bellrichard resumed throwing hand grenades at the onrushing attackers. As he was about to hurl a grenade, a mortar round exploded just in front of his position, knocking him into the foxhole and causing him to lose his grip on the already armed grenade. Recovering instantly, Pfc. Bellrichard recognized the threat to the lives of his 4 comrades and threw himself upon the grenade, shielding his companions from the blast that followed. Although severely wounded, Pfc. Bellrichard struggled into an upright position in the foxhole and fired his rifle at the enemy until he succumbed to his wounds. His selfless heroism contributed greatly to the successful defense of the position, and he was directly responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades. His acts are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
He left behind his wife, Shirley Jean (France) Bellrichard, age 22. He..is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery, Janesville, Wisconsin in the veteran’s section left side, 8th row down from the Flag pole.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.