• newark
  • Essex
  • June 04, 1929
  • May 02, 1968
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SFC
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Leroy Norris Wright was born in Asbury Park, NJ, on June 4, 1929.  He attended grammar schools and high school in Asbury Park, graduating from Asbury Park High School in 1947, where he was on the football team.

Wright served in the US Army for more than 17 years.  His home of record is Newark, NJ.  He attained the rank of Sergeant First Class (SFC).  Wright completed two tours in Korea and one in the Dominican Republic with the 82nd Airborne Division.

While in Korea, he met and fell in love.  He became engaged to Miss Seo He Ja.  But what should have been a happy time for the two lovebirds turned into miles and miles of red tape by the US government and the US Army.  According to the Newark Sunday News, dated June 23, 1957, Wright had to reenlist in 1956, to be reunited with his sweetheart.  With the help of Congressman Kean, Wright was eventually granted the Army's permission to marry and gain admission to the United States for his bride, when his tour of duty ended in December 1958.  The two were married and had two sons, Darryl and Dorian.

In August 1967, he joined the Special Forces, promising his wife he would retire after 20 years.  In March 1968, he was assigned to duty in Vietnam.  Wright was attached to Detachment B-56, Fifth Special Forces Group, Project SIGMA, Vietnam. On April 29, 1968, Wright and fellow Special Force solider, Roy Benavidez, were on a helicopter flown in to rescue a group of soldiers under fire.  They were able to get to the soldiers but the helicopter pulled away with Benavidez and another soldier hanging onto the twisting ropes.  Wright climbed out of a helicopter and untangled the ropes that held the soldiers 500 feet above the ground.  Wright and Benavidez were classmates in Special Forces training at Ft. Bragg, NC, and Benavidez later credited Wright with helping him complete the training program.  They were fighting side by side on the day Wright was killed.

On May 2, 1968, Benavidez was once again on a helicopter headed toward soldiers in trouble.  This time it was his friend, Leroy Wright.  When they arrived, they found that Wright had been killed in action.  Wright was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in combat.  Benavidez was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Wright is mentioned in the book, Medal of Honor: A Vietnam Warrior's Story by MSgt Roy P. Benavidez, USA SF (Ret.). 

Sources: Darryl Wright (son) and NJVVMF.


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