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Two soldiers honored at buildings in Harmony Church

A Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient and one of Gen. George Patton’s last company commanders were remembered Friday when two Harmony Church buildings were named in their honor.

A wash facility for tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles was named for Sgt. 1st Class Rodney J.T. Yano, a crew chief who served with Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam.

In the other honor, Col. James H. Leach  was recognized with the dedication of 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment’s headquarters building. Leach was commander of Company B, 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division under Patton when the general dashed across France in 1944 during World War II.

Yano, a native of Kona, Hawaii, was serving near Bien Hao on Jan. 1, 1969, when a grenade exploded prematurely in the  helicopter and severely wounded him with burning phosphorous. Although heavy smoke filled the aircraft, a partially blinded Yano used one arm to hurl burning ammunition from the helicopter, inflicting more injuries to himself. His actions prevented the loss of life and additional injuries to the rest of his crew.

Leach, a native of Houston, Texas,  was recognized for heroism at Bigonville on Dec. 24, 1944, and wounded five times while serving in Europe. He also served in Korea and Vietnam.

In October 2009, he was at the White House when President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment commanded by Leach in Vietnam in 1969.

Leach died at age 87 on Dec. 17, 2009.