b. 23/11/1919 Preston, Idaho. d. 28/10/1944 Leyte, Philippines.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 28/10/1944 Leyte, Philippines.
Brostrom was born on November 23, 1919 in Preston, Franklin County, Idaho. He was the first child of Carl John Brostrum (February 17, 1894 – March 13, 1975) and Louise Adolfina Hillstead (August 17, 1893 – September 25, 1961) who were married on August 21, 1918.
Brostrum grew up in the farming community of Preston, Idaho and attended the then primary and secondary school called the Oneida Stake Academy built by the Oneida Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Ezra Taft Benson and Harold B. Lee (both of whom later served as presidents of the LDS Church) and Medal of Honor recipient Mervyn S. Bennion also attended this school. In 1922, this school was renamed Preston High School even though it was referred to as the Academy for some time there after. Nathan K. Van Noy, another Medal of Honor recipient, attended the newer Preston High School.
Brostrum grew up attending church at the Oneida Ward in Preston. He grew up during the depression years farming, hunting and fishing while doing odd jobs for both pocket money and LDS Church service. His younger brothers Dean (1921–1999) and Dale (1925–2003) often tagged along until Leonard served a three-year LDS mission to California. Brostrum was on his church mission when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After successfully completing his mission he returned home and joined the U.S. Army in March 1942.
Private Brostrum was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion of the 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division and participated in the retaking of the Aleutian Islands, Eastern Mandates and Leyte; all of which started with amphibious assaults. Brostrum’s campaign ribbons for these contain an arrowhead representing being in the amphibious assault landings.
Brostrom first saw combat in the amphibious assault on Attu Island’s “red beach”, which was the westernmost Japanese entrenchment in the Aleutian islands chain. He landed with his company on May 11, 1943, spearheaded by the 17th Infantry, and fought an intense battle over the tundra against strong Japanese resistance.
Brostrom and the rest of the soldiers from the 17th Infantry were not trained or properly equipped for Arctic combat on Attu, for in those days the U.S. Army knew practically nothing about waging extensive winter warfare. Nevertheless, Brostrom and his fellow soldiers from the regiment carried on, and for this action they won a Distinguished Unit Citation. During the battle, Company F’s attack in the pass between the valleys was magnificent. The GIs used rifles, bayonets, and hand grenades to drive the enemy out of a series of trenches near the vital Cold Mountain. The fight for the island culminated in a battle at Chichagof Harbor, where the 7th Infantry Division destroyed all Japanese resistance on the island on May 29, after a suicidal Japanese bayonet charge. The 17th Infantry then invaded Kiska expecting another serious fight, but Brostrom and the others of the regiment found out that the Japanese had evacuated the island prior to the American landing.
Leyte, the third-largest island of the Philippines, was invaded by the 7th Infantry Division on October 20, 1944. Brostrom in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry, attacked from the center, driving down the Dulag–Burauen Road. Within 48 hours, they had captured San Pablo, Burauen, and Bayug Airfield.
On October 27, 1944, the 17th Infantry took the strong points south of the town of Dagami. At 7:30 AM, 0730 hours in military time, Brostrum, “a lead scout” with F Company, struck out on the left flank of the attack. Their job with the rest of the 2nd Battalion was to envelop Dagami from the American left to pin and destroy Japanese Army resistance in the town.
Brostrom with the lead assault platoon of F Company encountered “withering fire from pillboxes, trenches, and enemy spider holes”. The Japanese soldiers were well entrenched and camouflaged. Enemy fields of fire were well calculated with criss-crossing machine gun bunkers supported by infantry in trenches. Pfc. Brostrom was hit by enemy weapon fire three times as he fought his way through a bamboo thicket that was part of the enemy line. Brostrom dashed to the rear of a large enemy machine gun bunker/pillbox. During his charge from the bamboo thicket, he was visible not only to the rest of his rifle company, but to the Japanese riflemen shooting at him as well. As he threw several grenades into the bunker, six Japanese infantrymen charged with fixed bayonets. Brostrom was able to kill one soldier and wound others, causing them to retreat. Brostrom was hit a fourth time and fell to the ground. Again, in view of the Americans and Japanese soldiers, he rose to his feet and assaulted the bunker with grenades and rifle fire. The Japanese soldiers ran out of the bunker as Brostrom fell seriously wounded.
Staff Sergeant Paul Doty and Pfc’s Howard J. Evans and Eldridge V. Sorenson, who had caught up with Brostrom by this time, killed many of the fleeing enemy and called for a company medic. Brostrom was carried to the aid station but succumbed to his wounds.
During the same combat action and period, Pfc. John F. Thorson, from G Company, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry, attacked an enemy trench with his BAR and was within twenty feet when he was seriously wounded. The rest of Thorson’s platoon rushed forward sweeping the enemy from the trench line. After an enemy grenade landed nearby, Thorson rolled on top of it to protect his comrades and was killed instantly.
Pfc. Brostrom, F Company, is one of the only two members of the 17th Infantry to have received the Medal of Honor for their actions in combat during the war. The other was Thorson. The posthumous Medal of Honor awarded to Leonard C Brostrom, was presented to his father, by Brigadier General Robert M Hardaway on 29 November 1945 in Preston, Idaho.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Leonard C. Brostrom, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action as a rifleman with an assault platoon of Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which ran into powerful resistance near Dagami, Leyte, Philippine Islands, on 28 October 1944. From pillboxes, trenches, and spider holes, so well camouflaged that they could be detected at no more than 20 yards, the enemy poured machinegun and rifle fire, causing severe casualties in the platoon. Realizing that a key pillbox in the center of the strong point would have to be knocked out if the company were to advance, Private First Class Brostrom, without orders and completely ignoring his own safety, ran forward to attack the pillbox with grenades. He immediately became the prime target for all the riflemen in the area, as he rushed to the rear of the pillbox and tossed grenades through the entrance. Six enemy soldiers left a trench in a bayonet charge against the heroic American, but he killed one and drove the others off with rifle fire. As he threw more grenades from his completely exposed position he was wounded several times in the abdomen and knocked to the ground. Although suffering intense pain and rapidly weakening from loss of blood, he slowly rose to his feet and once more hurled his deadly missiles at the pillbox. As he collapsed, the enemy began fleeing from the fortification and were killed by riflemen of his platoon. Private First Class Brostrom died while being carried from the battlefield, but his intrepidity and unhesitating willingness to sacrifice himself in a one-man attack against overwhelming odds enabled his company to reorganize against attack, and annihilate the entire enemy position.
BURIAL LOCATION: PRESTON CEMETERY, PRESTON, IDAHO.
NW SECTION, BLOCK 1, LOT 18
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LATTER DAY SAINTS MUSEUM OF CHURCH HISTORY AND ART, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH.