Leo Profilet was born on July 29, 1928, in Cairo, Illinois. He entered Aviation Officer Candidate School on March 10, 1948, was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1949, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 1, 1950. His first assignment was flying AD Skyraiders with VA-115 aboard the USS Philippine Sea (CVA-47), where he served from October 1949 to September 1952, with two combat tours during the Korean War. He then served as an instrument flight instructor from September 1952 to September 1954, followed by school assignments until January 1956. Profilet served as a Weapons Officer aboard USS Tarawa (CVS-40) from January 1956 to January 1957, and then as Administrative Officer for VF-122 flying F2H Banshee fighters from January 1957 to June 1958. He then served as Maintenance Officer with VA-36, flying the A-4 Skyhawk, from June 1958 to June 1959. LCDR Profilet was awarded his Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Engineering through the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in June 1961, and then graduated from Naval War College in July 1962. From July 1962 to July 1964 he served as a Short Range Missile Evaluator with Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force at Norfolk, Virginia. He served as Executive Officer of VA-45 from July 1964 to August 1965, and then as a Replacement Pilot with VA-122 from August 1965 to January 1966. CDR Profilet became Executive Officer of VA-196, flying A-6 Intruders from January 1966 to December 1966, and then Commander of VA-196 aboard USS Constellation (CV-64) until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 21, 1967. After spending 2,032 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized before attending San Jose State University where he earned a Masters degree in Public Administration in June 1975. Capt Profilet served as Commander of the Navy ROTC detachment at the University of New Mexico from June 1975 to May 1978. His final assignment was as a Kahoolawe Project Officer in the Office of the Commander of U.S. Third Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from June 1978 until his retirement from the Navy on April 30, 1980. After his retirement from the Navy, Leo worked for Westinghouse in Sunnyvale, California, until he retired in 1993. He died on January 30, 2004, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Capt Profilet flew 98 combat missions during the Korean War and another 59 in Vietnam.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action on 21 August 1967 as Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron ONE NINE SIX, embarked in USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64). Captain (then Commander) Profilet demonstrated exceptional leadership and professional abilities in the planning and execution of a coordinated air-wing attack against the vital Duc Noi Rail Yard, situated five miles north of Hanoi, North Vietnam. As alternate strike leader and pathfinder pilot for the strike, he assisted in the careful selection of a circuitous route, through cloud-shrouded mountainous terrain, which avoided most known antiaircraft emplacements and surface-to-air missile sites until the immediate approach to the target area. Encountering intense enemy opposition at this point, Captain Profilet commenced his precision bombing run. Although his aircraft received a direct hit from a surface-to-air missile and was soon engulfed in flames, he quickly released his bombs, ordered his bombardier to eject, and immediately followed him in egressing from the aircraft. The remaining strike aircraft, inspired by Captain Profilet's gallant actions, dived through the heavy enemy fire to deliver extremely accurate and highly devastating attacks on the target. By his indomitable leadership and courage, Captain Profilet contributed greatly to the major damage inflicted on this vital North Vietnamese transportation facility, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.