Leo B. Buckholdt (1966/06/16)
"You will remain in the door of our minds till we meet again on the other side," wrote former marine Randy Kendall about Buddy.
Leo Buddy Buckholdt was born on January 28, 1946, in Oklahoma to Mr. and Mrs. Leo Buckholdt. The Buckholdt family, consisting of Buddy and his brothers Rodney, Bruce, Troy and Ricky and sister Bonnie, later moved to Livermore, California. In the early 1960s the Buckholdt family settled in Santa Cruz and Buddy enrolled in Santa Cruz High School.
In December 1964, following his high school graduation, Leo Buddy Buckholdt enlisted in the US Marine Corps and was sent to Camp Pendleton, California, for his basic training. After completing school-of-infantry training, he was assigned as a helicopter door gunner in VOM Squadron 2 of MAG 16 and he departed for Vietnam.
Upon his arrival in Vietnam Buckholdt was immediately introduced to combat activity. During the month of March 1966, he was involved in a firefight that earned him a recommendation for the Naval Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device, the Air Medal, First Award and the Air Medal with Gold Star.
Buckholdt's unit was later operating out of Chu Lai, Vietnam, when it was called upon to support marines fighting a battalion of North Vietnamese Army Regulars. During the early hours of June 16, 1966, the eighteen men of the 1st Platoon of C Company of the 1st Recon Marines, who had been placed on Hill 488 (Nui Vu), were attacked by the communist troops of the NVA.
“The platoon had received casualties during the initial assault and sent out a call for Medical Evacuation choppers from Ky Ha.
At 0300, four UH-34D's from HMM-363 escorted by 2 UH-1E's from VMO-6 and 2 A-4's departed from Chu Lai to attempt to retract the team. Enemy fire was so intense in the zone that the flight had to wave off. One of the H-34s took seven hits from an automatic weapon.
One UH-1E from VMO-2 was also hit and forced down at BT 195222. The gunner, Private First Class Leo B. Buck- holdt, was killed by hostile fire.”
Buckholdt's body was removed from the door in the chopper and returned to his home in Santa Cruz. Following a memorial service, Private First Class Leo Buddy Buckholdt was interred in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.
(USDVA; VVMW; VVVVW, SCSn June 20. 1968 1:1; USMC Combat Helicopter Association, 660616 VMO-2 Vietnam, http:// www.popasmoke.com/kia/incidents.php?incident_id=48&conflict_ id=24, [16 September 2008])