Highway to be dedicated for Michael Leif today

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic
Michael Leif, the only Orion school district resident who died in the Vietnam War, will be remembered with a ceremony at his gravesite in Western Township Cemetery at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, and a luncheon at Swedona Lutheran Church at noon. Leif's mother, Lois Leif, holds his portrait. Surrounding her are Vietnam veterans Bill Montgomery, seated at left; George Rose, seated at right; Darrel Muhleman, standing at left; and Ben Woolley, standing at right. A three-mile stretch of County Highway 7 has been named for Leif.

Service U.S. Army, Sergeant, C Troop, 2nd Squad, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

Dates of birth and death Feb. 7, 1949, to Dec. 7, 1969.

Tour of duty Stationed as an armor crewman in South Vietnam beginning Feb. 8, 1969, the day after his 20th birthday. He died in Binh Thuan when he had only 23 days remaining in his tour.

How is he being remembered?

The Henry County Board has approved renaming three miles of County Highway 7 in memory of Leif, the only resident of the Orion school district who perished in Vietnam. He was a resident of Lynn Center.

County Highway 7 begins where Route 81 ends at Route 150. The stretch bearing Leif's name runs west from 150 to the county line. Workers placed signs along the road on Friday, Sept. 21.

When and where will the dedication be?

Anyone who wants to honor Leif for his service to his country is invited to join family, friends, Orion American Legion Post 255 and Orion Veterans of Foreign War Post 143 for a ceremony at his gravesite in Western Township Cemetery at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. The ceremony will include a rifle party firing a salute and trumpeter Tracy Hepner playing Taps.

Following the dedication, everyone is invited to a luncheon at noon at Swedona Lutheran Church.

Patriot Guard Riders have been invited to attend.

What were the circumstances of his death?

 A new soldier in the company was supposed to go out and help clear mines, but he didn't think he knew how, according to fellow Vietnam veteran George Rose. Leif went in his place.

During the mission, Leif rode on top of the tank, his mother, Lois Leif, said. A 12-year-old girl in the bushes shot him. As he was dying, Leif saw that one of his fellow soldiers aiming at the girl. Leif said not to shoot her, and the soldier did not.

The family heard about his death the next day, but they did not know the circumstances until they received a letter 35 years later from one of the soldiers who witnessed the incident.