First Lieutenant Turney W. Leonard, USA (November 4-6, 1944)

USATurney White Leonard was born in Dallas, Texas on June 18, 1921. He was a member of the class of 1942 at Texas A&M University and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army via ROTC. Leonard was assigned to the Armor Branch.

He entered combat in Normandy in July 1944 with the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 893rd was equipped with the M10 Gun Motor Carriage.

During the very costly Battle of Hürtgen Forest, Leonard’s company of the 893rd was attached to the 28th Infantry Division. For three days in November 1944, he repeatedly left the relative safety of his armored vehicle to direct the fire of his men and to rally the beleaguered infantrymen around him. He was grievously wounded, refused evacuation, and remained behind when their positions were overrun. His Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded the following September.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (G-L):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*LEONARD, TURNEY W.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion. Place and date: Kommerscheidt, Germany, 4-6 November 1944. Entered service at: Dallas, Tex. G.O. No.: 74, 1 September 1945

Citation: He displayed extraordinary heroism while commanding a platoon of mobile weapons at Kommerscheidt, Germany, on 4, 5, and 6 November 1944. During the fierce 3-day engagement, he repeatedly braved overwhelming enemy fire in advance of his platoon to direct the fire of his tank destroyer from exposed, dismounted positions. He went on lone reconnaissance missions to discover what opposition his men faced, and on 1 occasion, when fired upon by a hostile machinegun, advanced alone and eliminated the enemy emplacement with a hand grenade. When a strong German attack threatened to overrun friendly positions, he moved through withering artillery, mortar, and small arms fire, reorganized confused infantry units whose leaders had become casualties, and exhorted them to hold firm. Although wounded early in battle, he continued to direct fire from his advanced position until he was disabled by a high-explosive shell which shattered his arm, forcing him to withdraw. He was last seen at a medical aid station which was subsequently captured by the enemy. By his superb courage, inspiring leadership, and indomitable fighting spirit, 1st Lt. Leonard enabled our forces to hold off the enemy attack and was personally responsible for the direction of fire which destroyed 6 German tanks.

Lieutenant Leonard was buried by the Germans. His remains were later recovered and identified, repatriated to the United States, and laid to their rest in the Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.

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