Lt. Col. Henry Perry (left), commander of the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, poses for a picture with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Leipold (right), a native of Hollidaysburg, Pa., and an AH-64D Apache helicopter maintenance test pilot for B Company, 4-227th ARB, 1st ACB, at Hood Army Air Field, Oct. 4,
2012. Leipold was awarded the Air Medal with V device for valor for
his actions during a battle he was in last July in the Helmand
province of Afghanistan. Photo by Army Sgt. Richard Wrigley
FORT HOOD, Texas (10/15/2012) - Selfless service, bravery in the
face of extreme opposition, courage under fire, all these words can
be used to describe Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Leipold, a
native of Hollidaysburg, Pa., and an AH-64D Apache helicopter
maintenance test pilot for B Company, 4th Attack Reconnaissance
Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st
Cavalry Division, who was recently awarded the Air Medal with V
device for valor for his actions here, Oct. 4.
Leipold's actions in battle were quite remarkable, his story in the
military begins much earlier than the events of that decisive day in
Helmand province, Afghanistan.
His story started in 1993
when as a self described "young punk with very little ambition,"
Leipold enlisted into the Army as an M1A1 Abrams Tank crewman.
Leipold explained how while growing up, one thing that was
constant for him was his involvement in sports and the team
environment, and that it was the team mindedness of the Army which
originally attracted him to the service.
"I wanted to be a
part of something that was bigger than myself," said Leipold.
After meeting with success within the enlisted ranks for
almost nine years, Leipold eventually decided to pursue a
career in aviation, he said.
"There was a lot of
different reasons [I made the change], one was that the
Apache is the premier attack aircraft of the world, there is
nothing that really comes close to it, and I've always been
intrigued by flight as well," Leipold said.
While flying is a
large part of Leipold's life, there is a lot more to him
explained Chief Warrant Officer 4, James Merideth, from
Austin, Texas, the company standardization pilot for B
Company, 4-227th, 1st ACB.
"He's not just a great
pilot, he's very much a family man, and a devout Christian,"
Merideth went on to describe how
Leipold has been married for a number of years, and has five
wonderful kids. He also detailed how education was an
important factor in Leipold's life, whether it is military
education, or the completion of his bachelor's degree in
Besides these successes he has had
in life, Leipold has had many accomplishments in his career
prior to the actions which lead to his most recent award. He
has deployed to Iraq three times, has completed his first
tour in Afghanistan, and has received numerous awards to
include an Air Medal with V device for valor previous to
this one, Leipold said.
When asked about the mission,
Leipold was hesitant to speak too much on the subject due to
its sensitive nature, as it was in support of special
operations forces, yet he had no problem explaining the
importance of his job on the battlefield.
"What we do
is close air support for the ground trooper. When contact is
made, everybody else runs away from it, but we run to it,
because someone needs us. That's basically what we do,”
Leipold explained. “We know we're going into an area that's
not going to be friendly, but we know there are good guys on
the ground, and we make our money by making sure they come
"The job satisfaction you get from helping
someone on the ground, who really needs it is unparalleled
in my opinion," Leipold said.
"If you talk to any
Apache pilot across the board, you'll get the same thing,
it's all about the ground guys," Leipold added.
far as the specific actions that Leipold was awarded for,
his award describes a day where as Air Mission commander and
pilot-in-command, Leipold and his team successfully engaged
and destroyed more than twenty enemy fighting positions, all
while taking extreme amounts of enemy fire, in order to
ensure that U.S. and British Special Operations Forces could
safely and successfully infiltrate and occupy the area the
Leipold himself said that when they flew
into the area the enemy fired from about 15 heavy machinegun
positions, and at any one time 16 or 17 rocket propelled
grenades were flying through the air.
shed a little light on the mission.
"Some of our
guys had already flew in to check out the area the night
before ... [Leipold] knew the sheer amount of enemy
firepower he would have to fly into ... he knew he was going
to go put himself, his life, his aircraft in danger ... and
he didn't even bat an eye at it, [Leipold] said 'absolutely,
yea, put me in," Meredith said.
concludes with, "his actions are in keeping with the finest
traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit
upon himself, [his unit], and the Army."
By Army Sgt. Richard Wrigley
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