Soldier Spotlight: Staff Sergeant William F. Leonard

Staff Sergeant William F. LeonardBiography

Medal of Honor nominee William F. Leonard hailed from Lockport, N.J., and was born Aug. 9, 1913.

Then-Pfc. William F. Leonard is being recognized for his valorous actions while serving as a squad leader with Company C, 30th Infantry, on Nov. 7, 1944, near St. Die, France. Leonard’s platoon was reduced to eight men by blistering artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and rifle power. Leonard led the survivors in an assault over a tree-and-shrub-covered hill, continuously swept by automatic fire. Killing two snipers at ranges of 50 and 75 yards, he disregarded bullets that pierced his back to engage and destroy a machine-gun with rifle grenades, killing its two-man crew. Stunned by an exploding bazooka shell, he continued his relentless advance to knock out a second a machine-gun and capture the roadblock objective.

Leonard returned from his service and worked in the automotive industry, as a butcher, and finally retired from a radiator company. He passed away five days before his 72nd birthday as he sat in the backyard listening to a New York Yankees game on the radio.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Leonard received the Distinguished Service Cross (this award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Mar. 18), the Bronze Star Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.

Citation for Distinguished Service Cross

Pfc. William F. Leonard, Infantry Squad Leader, Company C, 30th Infantry, for extraordinary heroism in action.

On Nov. 7, 1944, at 8 a.m., near St. Die, France, Leonard’s platoon was reduced to eight men by blistering artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and rifle power; Leonard led the survivors in an assault over a tree- and shrub-covered hill continuously swept by automatic fire. Killing two snipers at ranges of 50 and 75 yards, he disregarded bullets that pierced his back to engage and destroy a machine-gun with rifle grenades, killing its two-man crew. Stunned by an exploding bazooka shell, he continued his relentless advance to knock out a second a machine-gun and capture the roadblock objective.

Citation represents Soldier’s rank at time of action

Medal of Honor

Leonard is set to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House on March 18.

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