The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SGT Leonard Earl Peacock, who died in the service of his country on May 29th, 1966 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Leonard was 21 years of age. He was from Folkston, Georgia. Leonard is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 07E, Line 121.
The decorations earned by SGT Leonard Earl Peacock include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachute Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
REMEMBERING EARL PEACOCK
By JoDee Gibson
Forty years ago, the Vietnam War was escalating at a rapid pace as the United States plunged deeper into it's commitment to aid South Vietnam. While the number of American service personnel in Vietnam would more than double from 1965 to 1966, even more tragic was that the number of American casualties would increase over threefold. By the end of May, 1966, the United States had lost almost 3,000 servicemen (and two women) to the conflict and would still lose another 55,000 plus before the war's end. A little over eleven months elapsed between the loss of Folkston's first serviceman, WO1 Michael L. Wildes, and it's second, SGT Leonard Earl Peacock.
Earl had been born on August 6, 1944 in Appling Co., GA to William and Bessie Peacock. When Earl was still a child, the family had moved back to Folkston and by the time Earl was 11, his father had passed away. His mother later married Clarence Adams and Earl became part of an even larger growing family. On August 11, 1961, five days after he turned seventeen years old, Earl entered the U.S. Army and began his training as an infantryman. During the next year, he underwent Advanced Infantry Training, Basic Airborne Training, Light Weapons Infantryman and Automatic Rifleman Training. By February 3, 1964, he had been made a team leader with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and was stationed in Hawaii.
Receiving orders to Vietnam, Earl arrived in country on January 5, 1966 and was assigned as a team leader with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment (Cacti), 25th Infantry Division at Pleiku. On May 29, 1966, Earl was taking part in a search and destroy operation in the Central Highlands' Pleiku Province, near the village of Plei Ya Ya, when he was killed in an ambush by NVA (North Vietnamese Army) troops. He had been in country for 145 days and was barely three months shy of his 22nd birthday.
On June 4, 1966, SFC Quentin R. Greene departed Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon, escorting Earl's body back to Folkston. Arriving on June 5, 1966, Earl's body lay in state at the Adams' family home until he was buried, with full military honors, beside his father in Pineview Cemetery on June 6, 1966.
On November 9, 1966, Army Major James McChesney traveled to Folkston to present Mrs. Adams with the Bronze Star Medal with a V device, which had been posthumously awarded to Earl for his actions on the day he was killed. The citation accompanying the Medal read: "For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force on 29 May 1966, SGT Peacock distinguished himself by heroic actions during a fire fight with soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army near the village of Plei Ya Ya in the central highlands of the Republic Of Vietnam. SGT Peacock was leading his squad down a trail when he spotted enemy soldiers lying in ambush. He and his men were immediately taken under fire by an enemy machine gun. Realizing the tenuous position that the entire platoon would be in if the weapon was not silenced, SGT Peacock immediately directed his squad in an assault on the enemy position. Throughout the assault, he remained in an exposed location and inspired his men by his own personal bravery and example. As he maneuvered into the enemy position, SGT Peacock was mortally wounded; however, his leadership and heroic actions resulted in the elimination of the enemy machine gun. His personal bravery and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the Armed Forces of the United States."
Earl had been in the Army for four years and nine months when he was killed. During his time in the service of his country, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge; the Bronze Star Medal with a V device; the Purple Heart; the National Defense Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal; the Vietnam Campaign Medal; the Vietnam Cross Of Gallantry with a Palm Unit Citation; the Military Merit Medal; the Parachutist Badge; a Good Conduct Medal; and he earned an Expert Badge with a Browning Automatic Rifle and Carbine bar and a Sharpshooter Badge with a rifle bar.
Earl's mother, stepfather, and two of his brothers have since passed away; however, most of his remaining brothers and sisters still live in Charlton Co. and Nassau Co, FL. His sister, Myree Maddox of Folkston, has been of great assistance in helping me gather information on Earl for this article. Even though she was only five years old when Earl was killed, she still remembers him, how very tall he was, and some of the events of his death and funeral.
As the 40th anniversary of the passing of SGT Earl Peacock is upon us, let us again remember the sacrifices he and the other three young men from Folkston made during the Vietnam War. Take a moment to remember them and their families and to pray for the safe return of our service personnel currently in combat around the world.