William F Leonard MOH

b. 09/08/1913 Lockport, New York. d. 04/08/1985 Lockport, New York.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 07/11/1944 St Die, France.

William F Leonard MOH

Born in Lockport, New York, Leonard would enter the United States Army from Buffalo NY, on November 17, 1942. William was originally recognised with the award of the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on November 7, 1944 at 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.

President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor in a March 18, 2014, ceremony in the White House. His daughter accepted the award on her father’s behalf. The award resulted from a Defense Authorization Act which directed a review of all Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War who had been awarded lower-precedence valour awards to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.



Private First Class William F. Leonard distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in Company C, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy near St. Die, France on November 7, 1944. Private First Class Leonard’s platoon was reduced to eight men as a result of blistering artillery, mortar, machinegun, and rifle fire. Private First Class Leonard led the survivors in an assault over a hill covered by trees and shrubs which the enemy continuously swept with automatic weapons fire. Ignoring bullets which pierced his pack, Private First Class Leonard killed two snipers at ranges of fifty and seventy-five yards and engaged and destroyed a machinegun nest with grenades, killing its two-man crew. Though momentarily stunned by an exploding bazooka shell, Private First Class Leonard relentlessly advanced, ultimately knocking out a second machinegun nest and capturing the roadblock objective. Private First Class Leonard’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.