Then-Pfc. William F. Leonard is being recognized for his valorous actions while serving as a squad leader with Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division 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.
Leonard’s daughter, Patricia Kennedy will accept the Medal of Honor award from President Barack Obama on March 18, 2014. Kennedy says her father didn’t speak much about his service, but remembers a single story about her father visiting a bombed church in Strasbourg, France, where he received Communion.
See below for exclusive images of Leonard with his family after he returned from service:
To read more about Staff Sgt. Leonard, visit http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/leonard/