Leonard C. Brostrom

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Leonard C. Brostrom
LeonardBrostrom.jpg Cmoh army.jpg
PFC. Leonard C. Brostrom
Born (1919-11-23)November 23, 1919
Preston, Idaho
Died October 28, 1944(1944-10-28) (aged 24)
Leyte, Philippines
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942–1944
Rank Army-USA-OR-03.svg Private First Class
Unit 17th Infantry Regiment,
7th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Leonard C. Brostrom was a soldier in the United States Army who died during the Philippines Campaign of 1944–45 during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during this campaign. Brostorm was a member and also served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Biography[edit]

Brostrom was born on November 23, 1919 in Preston, Franklin County, Idaho. He was the first child of Carl John Brostrum (Feb. 17, 1894–Mar. 13, 1975) and Louise Adolfina Hillstead (Aug. 17, 1893–Sep. 25, 1961) who were married on August 21, 1918.[1] Leonard was Killed in action on October 28, 1944 near Dagami, Leyte, Philippine Islands, now the Republic of the Philippines. Leonard is buried in the Preston Cemetery, Block 1, lot 18.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

A Red circle with a black outline and black hourglass at its center
7th Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia

Military service[edit]

Brostrum completed basic training at Fort Ord, California and was assigned to the 7th Motorized Division. Shortly after arriving at Camp San Luis Obispo, the Division began training in the Mojave Desert in preparation for its planned deployment to the African theater.[5]

On January 1, 1943 his Motorized Division was renamed the 7th Infantry Division (light).[5] Brostrum and the other soldiers began rigorous amphibious assault training under US Marines from the Fleet Marine Force, before being deployed to fight in the Pacific theater instead of Africa.[6] General Holland Smith oversaw the unit's training.[7]

Combat[edit]

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.[6]

A line of soldiers hiking on the side of a very snowy mountain, viewed from behind
7th Infantry Division troops negotiate snow and ice during the battle on Attu in May, 1943.

Aleutian islands[edit]

Pvt. Brostrum first saw combat in the amphibious assault on Attu Island's "red beach", which was the western-most Japanese entrenchment in the Aleutian islands chain. He landed with his Company on May 1, 1943[8] spearheaded by the 17th Infantry Regiment, and fought an intense battle over the tundra against strong Japanese resistance.[9]

Brostrum and the rest of the soldiers from the 17th Regiment were not trained or equipped for Arctic combat on Attu. Soaked boots, cold weather and was neither properly equipped nor clothed for a northern campaign, for in those days the U.S. Army knew practically nothing about waging extensive winter warfare. Nevertheless, Brostrum and his fellow soldiers from the 17th carried on, and for this action they won a Distinguished Unit Citation. During the battle Brostrum with "Company F's attack in the pass between the valleys was magnificent. The GI's used rifles, bayonets, and hand grenades to drive the enemy out of a series of trenches near the vital Cold Mountain."[10] The fight for the island culminated in a battle at Chichagof Harbor, when the division destroyed all Japanese resistance on the island[9] on 29 May, after a suicidal Japanese bayonet charge. The 17th regiment then invaded Kiska expecting another serious fight, but Brostrum and the others found out that the Japanese had evacuated the island prior to the American landing.[8]

Eastern Mandates[edit]

The Eastern Mandates are part of the Marshall Islands where Brostrum and the rest of his unit invaded Kwajalein atoll after four months of training in Hawaii. Under their new leader Major General C. H. Corlett the amphibious assaults on the 42 islands of the atoll went "most nearly perfect."[10] It is not certain which specific island(s) Company F and Brostrum captured. The Division returned to Hawaii for rest and recuperation. Then they trained for the next assault.[6]

Leyte[edit]

Leyte, the third largest island of the Philippines was invaded by Brostrum and the rest of the 7th Division on October 20, 1944. Brostrum in Company F, 2nd Battalion of the 17th Regiment attacked from the center, driving down the DulagBurauen Road. Within 48 hours they had captured San Pablo, Burauen, and Bayug Airfield.[10]

On October 27, 1944 the 17th took the strong points south of the town of Dagami. At 7:30 AM, 0730 hours in military time, Brostrum, "a lead scout" with Company F struck out on the left flank of the attack. Their job with the rest of the 2nd Battalion was to envelope Dagami from the American left to pin and destroy Japanese Army resistance in the town.[10]

A map showing the island of Leyte, with an army planned to land on the northeastern part of the island and advance west
Invasion of Leyte Map, October 1944.

Brostrum with the lead assault platoon of Company F encountered "withering fire from pillboxes, trenches, and enemy spider holes.".[10] The enemy were well entrenched and camouflaged. Enemy fields of fire were well calculated with criss-crossing machine gun bunkers supported by infantry in trenches. PFC Brostrum was hit by enemy weapon fire three times as he fought his way through a bamboo thicket that was part of the enemy line. Brostrum 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 company, but to the Japanese riflemen shooting at him as well. As he threw several grenades into the bunker, six Japanese infantrymen charged with bayonets fixed. Brostrum was able to kill one and wound others causing them to retreat. Brostrum 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 enemy ran out of the bunker as Brostrum fell seriously wounded.[10]

"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 medic. PFC Brostrum was carried to the aid station but sucumbed to his wounds.[10]

During the same combat action and time period, PFC John F. Thorson, from Company G, attacked an enemy trench with his BAR and was within twenty feet when he was seriously wounded. The rest of his platoon rushed forward sweeping the enemy from the trench line. An enemy grenade landed nearby and Thorson rolled on top of it to protect his buddies. He was killed instantly.[10]

Private First Class Brostrum, Company F, is one of the only two members of the 17th Infantry Regiment to have received the Medal of Honor for their actions in combat. The other was PFC John F. Thorson from Company G.[10]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 104 (November 15, 1945) Action Date: 28-Oct-44 Service: Army Rank: Private First Class Company: Company F Regiment: 17th Infantry Regiment Division: 7th Infantry Division

Citation:

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.[11]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
ArmyQualExpert.JPG Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
Arrowhead
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two campaign stars and arrowhead device
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Philippine Liberation Medal
U.S. Army Medal of Honor displayed with a light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.

Brostrum's MOH journey[edit]

In the early 1950s, Brostrum's Medal of Honor was donated by his family to the Franklin County Courthouse, in Preston, where it was displayed with his picture and a few mementos. When a new set of county commissioners decided to remove the display cases, the local American Legion then displayed Brostrum's Medal of Honor. In time, local veterans dwindled and the Legion Hall was taken over by the County.[12]

The last commander of the Preston American Legion Chapter in Preston then took Brostrum's display home for safe keeping. By this time, all of Brostrum's family had died except for a niece. She did not want the Medal of Honor display citing she would not be able to preserve it properly. A local lawyer then was asked to keep the display safe in his office. The medal sat there until a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, who was then the command historian for the United States Military Academy at West Point, called the lawyer doing research on PFC Brostrum's life. This eventually led to a discussion of how to properly honor Leonard C. Brostrum and display his Medal of Honor. Since Brostrum had been a lifetime member of the LDS Church, the Church History Library was contacted and agreed to preserve the Medal.[12]

Brostrum is one of five members of the LDS Church to have received the Medal of Honor during World War II. Two other Preston, Idaho citizens Mervyn S. Bennion and Nathan K. Van Noy were also given the Medal of Honor.[12]

USNS Private Leonard C. Brostrom (T-AK-255)

Legacy[edit]

A United States Army transport ship, USAT Private Leonard C. Brostrom was named in his honor in 1948.

The ship was built in 1943 for the United States Maritime Commission as SS Marine Eagle, a Type C4-S-B1 tank carrier, by Sun Shipbuilding during World War II. In 1948, she was transferred to the United States Army as USAT Private Leonard C. Brostrom after Leonard C. Brostrom, a recipient of the Medal of Honor. In 1950, the ship was transferred to the Military Sea Transport Service of the U.S. Navy as a United States Naval Ship staffed by a civilian crew. After ending her naval service, she entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet in October 1980 and was sold for scrapping in June 1982.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Membership Department (Indexed 1975-1977). "Deceased membership records 1941-1988 - Microfilm number: 884051". International Genealogical Index (IGI). Familysearch.org, Corporation of the President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT. Retrieved December 4, 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Note: At http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp using only Leonard Carl Brostrom for search terms.
  2. ^ K. - Findagrave.com (2003). "Find a Grave". Leonard C. Brostrom. Findagrave.com. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Oneida Stake Academy". Preston School District. 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2011.  See also:
  4. ^ WWII Army Enlistment Records
  5. ^ a b "7th Infantry Division Homepage: Chronological History". 7th Infantry Division. 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "7th Infantry Division Homepage: History". 7th Infantry Division. 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "General Holland McTyeire Smith, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  8. ^ a b Horner, David (2003). The Second World War, Vol. 1: The Pacific. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-0-415-96845-4. , page 41-43.
  9. ^ a b Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States. United States Government Printing Office. 1959. ASIN B0006D8NKK. , page 524.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i U.S. Army (2007). "History of the 7th Infantry Division - BAYONET!". U.S. Army. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Valor awards for Leonard C. Brostrom". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  12. ^ a b c Lloyd, R. Scott (November 19, 2011). "Unsung war hero's medal now preserved at Church History Library". Church News. 
  13. ^ Priolo, Gary P. (15 August 2008). "USNS PVT. Leonard C. Brostrom (T-AK-255)". NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive. NavSource Online. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 

External links[edit]