Matthew Leonard

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Matthew Leonard
Cmoh army.jpg   Matthew Leonard.jpg
Matthew Leonard, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1929-11-26)November 26, 1929
Eutaw, Alabama
Died February 28, 1967(1967-02-28) (aged 37)
South Vietnam
Place of burial Fort Mitchell National Cemetery Fort Mitchell, Alabama
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1949–1967
Rank
Sergeant First Class insignia
Sergeant First Class
Unit 16th Infantry Regiment,
United States Army 1st Infantry Division CSIB.svg 1st Infantry Division
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War 
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
CIB2.png Combat Infantry Badge 2nd Award.

Matthew Leonard (November 26, 1929–February 28, 1967) was a United States Army soldier who received America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Biography[edit]

Leonard was born in Eutaw, Alabama. He married his elementary school sweetheart, Lois, and they had five children.[1]

Matthew Leonard entered the Army from Birmingham, Alabama in 1949.[2] He served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. On February 28, 1967, Leonard was serving as a platoon Sergeant with Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division near Suoi Da, South Vietnam. When his platoon came under attack on that day, Sergeant Leonard organized the defense and encouraged his men. Despite suffering several wounds, he continued to command and eventually charged an enemy machine gun. He was wounded again during the charge, and died soon after.

For his actions on that day, Sergeant Leonard received the Medal of Honor. Leonard's widow Lois and her family were presented with his Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the Pentagon on December 19, 1968.[1]

Matthew Leonard is buried in Fort Mitchell, Alabama's National Cemetery.[3]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Sergeant Leonard's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. His platoon was suddenly attacked by a large enemy force employing small arms, automatic weapons, and hand grenades. Although the platoon leader and several other key leaders were among the first wounded, P/Sgt. Leonard quickly rallied his men to throw back the initial enemy assaults. During the short pause that followed, he organized a defensive perimeter, redistributed ammunition, and inspired his comrades through his forceful leadership and words of encouragement. Noticing a wounded companion outside the perimeter, he dragged the man to safety but was struck by a sniper's bullet which shattered his left hand. Refusing medical attention and continuously exposing himself to the increasing fire as the enemy again assaulted the perimeter, P/Sgt. Leonard moved from position to position to direct the fire of his men against the well camouflaged foe. Under the cover of the main attack, the enemy moved a machine gun into a location where it could sweep the entire perimeter. This threat was magnified when the platoon machine gun in this area malfunctioned. P/Sgt. Leonard quickly crawled to the gun position and was helping to clear the malfunction when the gunner and other men in the vicinity were wounded by fire from the enemy machine gun. P/Sgt. Leonard rose to his feet, charged the enemy gun and destroyed the hostile crew despite being hit several times by enemy fire. He moved to a tree, propped himself against it, and continued to engage the enemy until he succumbed to his many wounds. His fighting spirit, heroic leadership, and valiant acts inspired the remaining members of his platoon to hold back the enemy until assistance arrived. P/Sgt. Leonard's profound courage and devotion to his men are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and his gallant actions reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lynne, Diana (2003-02-18). "War hero's widow gets reprieve". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 2006-09-29. 
  2. ^ Service Profile
  3. ^ "Matthew Leonard". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2006-09-29. 
  4. ^ "Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients (A-L)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 2004-03-15. Retrieved 2006-09-29. 

References[edit]