© Copyright Michael Dan Kellum 2010
Comments On Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich Jr.
Books I & II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs'
By Michael Dan Kellum, 1stLt., USMCR
Brig.Gen. Paul D. Slack, USMC, Ret., VNMC Advisor; XO, 1/1, RVN
Bill Leftwich--Marine. That's all you need to identify Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich. He was a Marine
who always led from the front of the column and I followed his career in the Corps. Yes, I mean
I followed his career in the Corps in lock step. He led from duty assignment to duty assignment
and I was right behind him. It started at the Naval Academy where he was two years ahead of
me and continued throughout time in the Corps.
Bill set the bar high and it was a challenge to match. Five years after my graduation I was
assigned as a company officer at the Academy and Bill had just moved on. As always, he left a
legacy and those who followed were expected to match it. We went our separate ways to staff
assignments and crossed again in the Eighth Marine Regiment. I took command of Charlie
Company and received some strange smiles from the Gunny. Bill had commanded the company
before me and his motto was "No Slack". It took awhile to recover from that legacy.
We went again to different staff assignments only to cross again as advisors to the Viet
Namese Marine Corps. Bill went first and before I left for Viet Nam I saw him on the front page
of the morning paper with his face shot open and a radio in his hand. There he was again,
leading from the head of the column. What a legacy to follow.
After drifting apart, we rejoined our Corps in Viet Nam. Again he went first and I followed. At
the rank of major, I feared being assigned a staff position so I sent letters to everyone I knew,
including Bill, seeking help. Thanks to someone or something I was assigned as the executive
officer of the First Battalion, First Marine Regiment. It was at this time I received the news of
The question was, why the hell was he in that helicopter doing an evacuation of a team in
trouble. The answer was simple. He was leading from the head of the column as he always did.
He was where his Marines expected him to be.
I sent a note to his wife Jane telling her that his death was felt like a cannon shot heard
throughout all of I Corps. He is missed.
Lt.Col. Mike Grice, USMC, 2001 Leftwich Trophy recipient
"I'm Lt.Col. Mike Grice, USMC, and was privileged to be the recipient of the Leftwich Trophy
for 2001. Lt.Col. Leftwich's legacy is very much alive in the Marines Corps and it was important
to me to live up to the heritage that has followed his service."
Lt.Col. Gilford G. "Gil" Robinson, USMC, Ret., 2/1's S-2 (Intelligence) officer under
Lt.Col. Gil Robinson noted that it seemed like the war stopped when the news got out that
War Cloud 6, Leftwich, had been killed in that air crash. “I remember the troops were crying. I
was in Da Nang with Maj. John Grinalds, Maj. Phil Monahan and Col. P.X. Kelley trying to
eulogize Leftwich. They were trying to find one thing wrong with him. They couldn’t. Finally,
Grinalds said, ‘He was the perfect leader.’” Chapter 15, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots
Maj.Gen. Ted Hopgood Jr., USMC, Ret., former Captain, CO, Echo Co., 2/1,
"I am very pleased to respond to your request to offer a few insights on Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich. I
commanded Echo Co., 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 2/1, the entire time that Leftwich
(Lt.Col. Wm. G. Leftwich, Jr. USMC; Class of 1953, USNA) was commanding officer, CO, of 2/1.
His predecessor as CO of 2/1 was Lt.Col. Wm. V.H. White. Bill White retired as a colonel and
was editor of the Marine Corps Gazette during his retirement years. Lt.Col. Don Norris
succeeded Leftwich as CO of 2/1 and was 2/1's CO when I rotated back to CONUS in early
"Maj. John Grinalds was the S-3 (Operations officer) of 2/1. He retired as a Maj.Gen. and was
president of The Citadel (in Charleston, SC) after his retirement. Maj. Norm Henry was the XO of
2/1. I don't know his rank at retirement nor do I know his post USMC activities. My recollection is
that Leftwich was highly decorated, Navy Cross, and "renowned" during his first tour of duty in
Vietnam as an advisor (to the Vietnamese Marine Brigade in 1965). He was an aide in the
Secretary of the Navy's office prior to his return to Vietnam and taking over 2/1.
"I remember Leftwich as an outstanding Marine in all respects. Personal appearance and
physical fitness were exceptional. I remember competing with and against him during several
evenings of twilight basketball games on a concrete court at Camp Lauer...2/1's cantonment just
south of Marble Mountain. The games were "all-comers," officer and enlisted...shirts off, sweaty
and dirty. Leftwich threw elbows and made "hand checks" as good as he got, no quarter asked
and none given. We all broke heavy sweats but I don't remember Leftwich even breathing fast.
He was rock hard and in great physical condition.
"Lt.Col. Leftwich was "out and about" on a regular basis. He daily visited units in the field; gave
solid guidance; was tactically savvy; had a realistic appraisal of our static nature and while firm
in his guidance, never required his Marines to conduct "X" number of patrols or go specifically
into highly booby trapped areas without reasons other than to satisfy a grease pen wielding
zealot at regiment or Division HQs. Our predicament or challenge of having to operate in the
"rocket belt' just south of the Marble Mountain Helo Field was that USMC units had been
operating in the same area for over five years and the "locals" knew our routes and SOPs very
well. The booby traps and anti-personnel mines seemed to be nearly everywhere. The Viem
Dong trail in our TAOR was where 1stLt. Lew Puller Jr. lost his legs. We were exceedingly
vulnerable. Every rifle company in 2/1 during the summer of 1970, April through October,
received more casualties than we inflicted.
"Of the three rifle companies I commanded in Vietnam during multiple tours, only in 2/1 were
the casualties so disproportionate. As a company commander, I felt Lt.Col. Leftwich trusted me,
had confidence in me and understood and respected the unique challenges of our static posture
during the long hot summer of 1970. I, in turn, had the utmost confidence in Lt.Col. Leftwich as
our battalion CO and tried to emulate his calm, professional style the remainder of my active
"High personal conduct and adherence to discipline were emphasized under Leftwich's
leadership. I remember one particular bit of his guidance passed out to all of us 2/1 officers that I
have slightly altered as appropriate and have since used in various environments many times.
"If you can't get a Marine to shave in the morning, I seriously doubt if you can get that same
Marine to charge up a hill later in the day!"
"I recall one late afternoon when Leftwich, his driver and several radio operators arrived at our
Echo 2/1 position. Leftwich and his entourage spent the night in our position. He closely
observed our company HQs and a reinforced platoon set in for the night. Shortly after his arrival
at our position, Leftwich asked why we were not occupying the large hill just outside our
perimeter...a sandy mound 200m X 100m, 10-15m in height. I well remember crawling with
Leftwich to the crest of the hill and my pointing out the tell-tale, exposed prongs of two M16
"bouncing-betty" anti-personnel mines.
"Our lead element had found the mines earlier in the day. USMC units had long been
operating in this area...two clicks or so due south of Marble Mountain...for over five years. The
local Vietnamese were well aware that our units "always" occupied the high ground so we would
have optimum fields of fire for our automatic weapons. That night we stayed off the high ground.
That night Echo took no casualties nor did we initiate any contact. That night over cups of C-
Ration brewed coffee, Lt.Col. Leftwich. told me that his USNA classmate, Ross Perot, had asked
him to leave the USMC when his obligated service was up and, 'Come join me in the business
world. I really think there is unlimited opportunity with this computer thing.' Not one to be put off
by one 'no,' Perot over several years had repeatedly asked Leftwich to leave the Marine Corps,
come to Texas and join him in business.
"Lt.Col. Leftwich told me between sips of coffee that shortly after his return to CONUS after his
first tour of Vietnam duty, Gen. Lew Walt, assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, had
Major and Mrs. Leftwich for dinner at the General's quarters at 8th and I. And, during the
evening, Gen. Walt made it abundantly clear that the USMC needed Bill Leftwich to remain on
"In the few short months he commanded 2/1, despite our hunkered down static nature, Lt.Col.
Leftwich enhanced his already well-known, Marine Corps-wide reputation for fearless
proficiency. So, when the 1stMarDiv Commanding General, Maj.Gen Charles F. Widdecke took
him away from 2/1 and made him the CO of 1st Recon Battalion, it came as no surprise. Due to
the announced draw down of U.S. forces in Vietnam and the already in progress withdrawal of
USMC forces from Vietnam, 1st Recon Battalion was the only real maneuver element in the
1stMarDiv and the CG wanted his best Lt.Col. to command it.
"Within weeks of my return to CONUS in early November 1970 and assignment to TBS as an
instructor, Lt.Col. Leftwich was KIA. My wife and I were among the hundreds of people who
attended a memorial service for him at Fort Myer (adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery in
Virginia). His lofty legacy remains a valid testament to a man who was every bit as good a
Marine as I have ever known."
Molly O'Neill, daughter of Lt.Col. Vince O'Neill, USNA 1964 graduate
"I talked to my mother and she said she didn't have any stories she could remember (that
former Echo then Hotel Co., 2/1 CO Capt. Vince O'Neill had told her). She just remembered
that my father spoke so highly of Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich Jr."
1stSgt. Maurice Jacques, 1st Recon Battalion, Vietnam, 1970
Bravo Co. 1stSgt. Maurice Jacques, a Korean War-era Marine who joined in 1948, had
positive things to say about Leftwich in his book, Sergeant Major: The Biography of Sergeant
Major Maurice J. Jacques, USMC, (co-author, Maj. Bruce H. "Doc" Norton).
“In my opinion, he was one of the better officers I had known, and he had a knack for being a
good listener. As we had joined the battalion at the same time, I knew that he was spending a
good deal of time getting to know the Marines in his battalion.” Chapter 13, Book II, American
Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
1stLt. Mike Fallon, platoon commander, Bravo Co., 1st Recon Bn., Vietnam, 1969-70
“(Lt.Col. Leftwich) wouldn’t just look at a map like some people and say, ‘Uh, you go there
and do this.’ He would ask a corporal who had been on a piece of terrain exactly what it was like
and what he thought," said 1stLt. Michael O. "Mike" Fallon, of Oceanside, California, 1st
Recon’s Bravo Co. commander who was serving an extended tour and was 22 when the colonel
He added, “He checked out every angle. That’s why the men respected him. Our morale was
fantastic. Our battalion was like a bunch of athletic teams, each one outdoing the other. We
hadn’t lost a man to hostile fire since he took over. He planned everything.” Chapter 13, Book II,
American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
Cpl. Ron Huegel, 1st Recon Battalion, Vietnam 1970
"I joined 1st Recon shortly after Lt.Col. Leftwich arrived. Mostly what I remember about him is
that he would come down to the LZ (LZ Finch/LZ 401) and visit the teams going out on patrol.
He'd talk to the team members, mostly asking if they were ready for the mission and giving them
encouragement. You already know about him going out on extractions, especially emergency
extractions. When he spoke to us, he seemed truly concerned about our well-being. We all felt
relaxed around him, knowing that he wasn't a rear area martinet."
Capt. Jim Kyle, USMC Ret., platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, Echo Co., 2/1,
"Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich’s presence gave you so much confidence with his sense of understanding
the tactical situation immediately. He came out to see my platoon at least two other times in a
short amount of time as well!
"I had never seen my previous battalion commander in the field... After almost 6 months in the
field with my platoon I finally felt the presence of true inspirational leadership by a senior Marine
officer who cared. I have never been in the presence of such a commanding leader before or
since. I will never forget him."
1stLt. Bill Valentino, HMM-263 pilot attached to Leftwich's 1st Recon Battalion as Air
Liaison Officer in 1970
"This is from my heart:
"I have tried hard to come up with a new anecdote about Bill Leftwich but I realize 40 years
later that mental clarity seems to be merging with nostalgia. Perhaps now what is more
important than his actions then are his legacy now and how his example has affected others.
"Leftwich was self-confident with virtually no ego but with humility and a concern for others; a
combination of character traits as rare then as they are now. I remember him as my leadership
ideal, a person of unquestioned integrity and character, who I have been trying to emulate my
entire professional life and always falling far, far short.
"I have had a very successful career and have enjoyed a great deal of recognition. But when
people ask me what my greatest professional achievement was I tell them being picked by Bill
Leftwich to be his Air Officer at 1st Recon Battalion. Most people don’t know what I am talking
about but every once in a while someone does and that’s enough."
Col. Mike Cross, USMC, Ret., platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, Golf Co., 2/1; platoon
commander, 1st Recon Battalion in 1970
"At the risk of repeating myself in my old age, I will mention a couple of stories that I probably
already told you. If I haven't, and you want to use it, I can give you more details.
"A little over a week before (Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich) died, I was on a patrol on Ba Na, a tall
mountain northwest of Da Nang the French used to use as a resort to get out of the heat. We
got weathered in and what should have been a 4-day patrol turned into 9 days. (My radioman
had fallen and was injured so we couldn't walk out). I'm pretty sure I told you about Lt.Col.
Leftwich and our ALO, Bill Valentino (who a year and a half later was my primary helo instructor
at Pensacola), getting a pilot to try to hover up the side of the mountain to drop soup and dry
socks to us. The pilots kept getting vertigo and almost killed everyone so they finally gave up,
but what I wanted to relate was the night before that attempt. The radio watch came to me and
said War Cloud 6 wanted to talk to our 6. I got on the radio and immediately recognized Lt.Col.
Leftwich's voice. He must have thought I needed a pep talk to keep our spirits up and we shot
the breeze for several minutes. I remember we totally disregarded communication security. He
said my present situation was a far cry from our last unit (when he was CO of 2/1 and I was a
platoon commander). I remember saying our old unit was under water (big flood that year in the
monsoon) and I was glad to be where I was. As I thought about it later, I think he was feeling me
out to see how our morale was holding up. Two days later he pulled us out on a SPIE rig (Friday
the 13th, November 1970, my lucky day) and a five days after that he was killed.
"Then there was the time back in 2/1 when Golf company (Jack Klimp was the CO) did a
cordon and search on a village. My platoon was the sweep platoon so we moved to our position
at 0300 and at first light swept through the village and rounded up all the villagers and provided
security for a county fair. At the end of the operation we were getting ready to leave when Lt.Col.
Leftwich came up to see how we were doing. He pulled me aside and told me even in the bush
Marines in his battalion shaved. I blew up (I was tired) and explained in more forceful terms than
a 2ndLt. uses with a Lt.Col. that I'd been working all day and hadn't had time to shave. Rather
than brace me up (as I probably deserved) he said he understood and told me to carry on. He
either recognized that I was right and he hadn't understood the entire situation or he thought I
was wound a little tight right then and he'd cut me some slack -- I don't know which. Either way,
he kept control of the situation and didn't make a big deal out of something small, but I knew that
I was to shave every day -- and keep my troops looking like Marines, even in the bush. To say
nothing of larger discipline issues.
"Neither of these stories is earth shaking, but it must have meant something to me at the time
because I still remember them. Shows he thought about the details."
1stLt. Gary "Hammer" Benson, HMM-364 Purple Fox pilot
"The grunts were and are the heroes, we were just there to try to make life a little better for
them. I can't tell you how hard the news of Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich's death was. He often came out
to see us at the helo pad at 1st Recon and visited the Purple Fox Ready Room to tell us how
much he appreciated our support for his teams. He was very charismatic, intelligent, humble and
genuine without swagger or braggadocio."
Ross Perot, '53 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, multi-billionaire
“(Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich Jr.) could’ve been CEO of any company in the country, a U.S. Senator, a
Congressman or even President of the United States but he chose to go to Vietnam and fight
and die for us…I talked to any number of Marine colonels and generals over him who said,
‘Ross, that guy would’ve been Commandant of the Marine Corps’…He was just one of the finest
men I’ve ever known and America should never forget people like that…great man, big loss.
(Lt.Col. Leftwich 39, of Germantown, Tennessee, was CO of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, died
along with 14 other men in a Sea Knight helicopter crash November 18, 1970 in the Que Son
Mountains of South Vietnam while attempting an emergency extract of 7-man Team Rush Act).”
Perspectives on the Vietnam War, Part I, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
1stLt. Pete Hanner, HMM-262 Chatterbox pilot, Vietnam, 1970
Former Chatterbox Sea Knight pilot 1stLt. Hanner noted that when he retired from FedEx in
2003 after flying for 15 years out of Memphis that the city and county governments still
remembered Bill Leftwich and his sacrifice. Chapter 16, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots
Maj. Bill Bond, USMC, Ret., served under Leftwich as advisor in 1965 with the VNMC
and again with 1st Recon in 1970
“If Bill Leftwich had done anything contrary to exerting his every physical and mental action in
saving his men, it would have been totally out of context with the way he lived his life. He was
extremely competent, always well-prepared and to those who admired him he was the Corps’
best example of a humble person.” Chapter 15, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots &
Maj.Gen. John S. Grinalds, USMC, Ret., served under Leftwich at 2/1 as his S-3
(Operations) officer; SSgt. Bailey Eames, USMC Ret., a corporal radioman to Grinalds in
“On that November 18th afternoon, Maj. Phil Monahan, the S-3 for the 1st Marine Regiment,
called me over the radio to inform me that ‘Bill was down,’” recalled Maj.Gen. John S. Grinalds
who was running 2/1’s heliborne attack from Hill 55.
“(The major) started to cry when he heard that the colonel had died in an air crash. Then he
went over to a sandbag and hit it,” recalled Cpl. Bailey Eames who was serving as Maj.
Grinalds’ radioman on the November 18, 1970 operation.
“Lt.Col. Leftwich was my best friend in the Marine Corps and his death and loss to the rest of
us was a real blow to me,” indicated Maj.Gen. Grinalds. Chapter 15, Book II, American Heroes:
Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
Chuck Bender, Leftwich's lifelong friend from Memphis, Tennessee
“From the very beginning, he wanted to be a Marine,” said Chuck Bender, his lifelong friend
beginning in kindergarten.
Bender, who lived just three houses down from him growing up in Germantown, Tennessee,
said his pal would play with those metal toy-size British soldiers painted in exact replicas of their
real-life counterparts. He threw them into battles against one another in reenactments of wars
“Twelve of us got together to get the MVP Trophy at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis named for
Bill Leftwich (1971-73),” said Memphian Chuck Bender.
“Bill shouldn’t have died. He was a hard leader but he wouldn’t ask you to do anything he
wouldn’t do himself,” said Bender, Bill's friend from childhood until his death. Chapters 11 & 16,
Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
Lt.Col. Mike Greene, USMC, Ret., 1stLt. Golf 3, 2/1 platoon commander; 1st Recon
Battalion platoon commander, 1970-71
(1stLt. Mike Greene) was impressed with the spirit and gung ho attitude of the Recon
Marines. He said Leftwich had given a speech during one of the meals in the mess hall and the
Marines pounded their silverware on the tables and gutturally yelled out loudly, “AARUGHA,”
when they agreed with something he said…which was often.
During a lull in the speech, he said they heard the mess hall staff in the kitchen clanging pots
and pans as they, too, agreed with what they were hearing from the charismatic Lt.Col. Leftwich.
Greene understated by saying Recon was a whole new world of Marines compared to 2/1.
Chapter 13, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
1stLt. Dan Kellum, USMCR, Echo 1, 2/1 platoon commander; XO; briefly Echo Co., CO
"Lt.Col. Bill Leftwich was special. I think what impressed me most was that he was not only a
strong, confident leader in a quiet sort of way but he listened to people and absolutely absorbed
everything they said. His wife Jane told me he had this photographic memory for names and
faces and I'm thinking that also included any information imparted to him by officers and enlisted
men. He would take that information and kick the enemy's ass at both 2/1 and 1st Recon
Battalion, both of which he commanded at one time, in 1970.
"He seemed to be the first CO to take advantage of the Intelligence and Counterintelligence
(CIT) sources available to him at 2/1 and cleaned the VC/NVA's plow. I think he just got involved
in the process and listened to his junior officers, enlisted men and section heads. 1stLt. Tom
Marino, 3rd CIT/ITT officer; 2ndLt. Gil Robinson, 2/1's S-2 (Intelligence); and Maj. John S.
Grinalds, S-3 (Operations) officer and a Rhodes Scholar, were a brain trust that Leftwich turned
loose on the VC/NVA in our Tactical Area of Operations Responsibility and devised some
innovative operations (See the May issue of Leatherneck magazine, Cam Sa Raid, The August
4 Caper). Even MAC-V was so interested in 2/1's successful counterintelligence operations that
they sent a team up to Camp Lauer from Saigon to talk to Marino and Robinson. Their modus
operandi was to move outside the box of generally acceptable by-the-book counterintelligence
work. They were literally rewriting the book. 1stMarDiv's Gen. Charles Widdecke also met with
them and picked the two men's brains for how they were operating. And behind all this was
Leftwich orchestrating everything.
"Leftwich proved his bravery in combat going with lead elements attacking a hill with
entrenched VC on it in 1965 at Hoai An working with the Vietnamese Marine Brigade. He was hit
by enemy fire but still continued to call in airstrikes until the enemy was vanquished from the
field of battle. For that fierce battle, he received the Navy Cross (See the front cover photo of
Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"). Several months later at Duc Co his cool
demeanor calling in air support against enemy troops holding the high ground again kept his
Vietnamese Marines from being overrun on the road to Duc Co surrounded by mountains. The
relief force lifted the siege on Duc Co. MAC-V Gen. William Westmoreland gave Maj. Bill
Leftwich the ultimate compliment calling him "the best advisor in Vietnam."
"November 18, 1970 Lt.Col. Leftwich would die in an unfortunate Sea Knight crash in the Que
Son Mountains that killed 13 other Marines and a Navy Corpsman. He died as he had lived his
life...leading from the front. He told his family in correspondence home that he wanted to share
in the danger more with his men. It's like the old saying, 'Don't send men where you wouldn't go
yourself.' Bill Leftwich was identified in the wreckage initially by his immaculately shined boots. A
small detail but something that epitomized the man. He shared the danger and lived the
childhood dream of becoming a Marine and the standard others would want to emulate as the
perfect Marine. He died a Marine Recon warrior's death with his boots on."
U.S. Navy Chaplain Lt.Cmdr. Lloyd Rupp, 1st Recon Battalion's Catholic Chaplain
“(Leftwich and I) spent hours talking about the war. He was a student of Dr. Bernie Fall who
authored such books as Street Without Joy and Hell in A Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien
Bien Phu. Ironically, they were both killed in Vietnam. The colonel always understood the wider
view of things military and political. He was noted as an officer who paid attention to details, to
people, to being fit and to being ready. He was a ‘Marine’s Marine.’ So all of us would follow him
anywhere. That, it seems to me, is what leadership is all about,“ Lt.Cmdr. Rupp, Leftwich’s 1st
Recon Chaplain, wrote in “Leftwich Trophy Revisited,” in the MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina
publication, Jet Stream. Chapter 16, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
Peter Arnett, Associated Press war correspondent in Vietnam covering the VNMC in
“I knew him well and admired him enormously,” said Arnett. “I would go with the Vietnamese
Marines (VNMC) a week or two at a time and Bill Leftwich was, of course, an advisor to them.
They were in constant mini-ambushes and skirmishes with the VC. They’d go out in the woods
after them and track them down.“
The former AP reporter continued, “He was a superb officer and had the greatest respect of
his Vietnamese associates. He was really very good to the reporters who joined him. He was
unfailingly polite and was a very energetic and intelligent leader. I liked him a lot and I remember
corresponding with him about the whole phenomenon about the war. He was a student of the
war and really had a smart attitude. I don’t think there was any doubt he was destined to
becoming a general officer.” Chapter 11, Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"
Harv Ames, Senior Advisor, Hoi Vang District, 1970
Bill’s friend, Harv Ames, recalled a May 1974 visit to Virginia with an Army major who had
headed up the Quang Nam provincial liaison to the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. After telling the
major of his last moments on LZ 401 at Camp Reasoner with Lt.Col. Leftwich on November 18,
1970, the major quietly told him Jane, Bill’s wife, lived next door. They called and she graciously
invited them over.
“I relayed to her those last moments I had with him and my admiration for the man he was, a
Renaissance man, a soldier’s soldier. I appreciated having had, serendipitously, the opportunity
to bring her something ‘positive’ from that terrible time. Bill deserves to be remembered as a
great man. He deserved to complete his life, to complete making his mark,” said Ames.
After The Wall was erected in Washington, D.C., Ames took his three daughters there and
pointed out Bill Leftwich’s name among the over 58,000 Vietnam War dead listed and explained
to them what a good person he was and what a great man he could have been. Chapter 16,
Book II, American Heroes: Grunts, Pilots & "Docs"