Brian Van Leer was born on December 8, 1960, in California. He enlisted in the Air Force Reserve on June 26, 1981, and went on active duty beginning January 20, 1982. Amn Van Leer completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in March 1982, and then Radar Identification Technician school from March to May 1983. His first assignment was as a Radar Identification Technician with the 932d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Rockville Naval Installation, Iceland, from June 1982 to June 1983, followed by service as an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Air Surveillance Technician and Instructor Air Surveillance Technician with the 963d Airborne Warning and Control Squadron at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, from June 1983 to November 1990. His final assignment was as an E-3 Sentry Instructor Air Surveillance Technician with the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from November 1990 until he was killed in the crash of an E-3B Sentry (Call Sign "Yukla 27") shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB on September 22, 1995.
His 3rd Air Medal Citation reads:
Sergeant Brian K. Van Leer distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight as an Airborne Warning and Control Systems Airborne Warning and Control System Instructor Air Surveillance Technician, 963d Airborne Warning and Control Squadron, 552d Airborne Warning and Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, from 5 December 1987 to 13 September 1988. During this period, Sergeant Van Leer exhibited airmanship and courage beyond normal expectations in the successful accomplishment of important surveillance and command and control missions, under potentially hazardous conditions, for United States and allied Air Force and Naval elements. His aerial skills contributed to the worldwide mission of the Wing. The professional skill and airmanship displayed by sergeant Van Leer reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.