Leonard W. Tilley

Leonard W. Tilley

Distinguished Service Cross

DURING Vietnam War
Service: Army
Rank: Sergeant First Class
Division: 1st Special Forces

Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 1373 (March 27, 1967


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant First Class Leonard W. Tilley, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Command and Control (North), FOB 2 (Khe Sanh), 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Sergeant First Class Tilley distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 7 February 1967 while serving as a Special Forces advisor to a combined American-Vietnamese platoon during a combat patrol. When the unit was suddenly attacked by a numerically superior Viet Cong force, the platoon leader ordered the patrol to pull back. Holding his position, Sergeant Tilley dauntlessly engaged the attacking insurgents, and provided covering fire until his squad could set up defensive positions on a hill. Once his men reached cover, he withdrew through a hail of bullets to the perimeter, where he shouted orders and directed the battle. When the platoon leader was killed, Sergeant Tilley took command, tightened the perimeter, and called for air strikes within twenty meters of his position. Completely disregarding his safety, he constantly exposed himself to the devastating enemy fire while encouraging the defenders and treating the wounded. As he was preparing to move the patrol to a pick-up zone for extraction, the insurgents attacked his position in force. Contemptuous of the danger, Sergeant Tilley charged directly into the advancing Viet Cong, firing his weapon and throwing grenades. Astonished by his aggressive, single-handed assault, the insurgents were forced to break their attack. After leading the patrol to the pick-up site, Sergeant Tilley made two trips back up the hill to ensure that all the dead and wounded were recovered. His boundless courage and determination prevented heavy casualties and enabled the patrol to effect a successful extraction. Sergeant First Class Tilley’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.