WNY Veteran Posthumously Awardeded Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A WWII veteran from Lockport who was overlooked for the Medal of Honor received the recognition he deserves, nearly 30 years after his death.

Staff Sgt. William Leonard was posthumously awarded the highest military honor in a ceremony Tuesday in Washington, D.C. He was among 24 veterans who were awarded the medal.

Leonard's three daughters were there to accept the award on his behalf.

The recognition comes 70 years after then - Pfc. Leonard blasted his way through a firefight with Nazi forces in the south of France. He was a squad leader trying to secure a roadblock. All but eight of his fellow soldiers were killed. He led the remaining men up a hill, killed enemy fighters along the way, and took out a German machine gun nest. Leonard suffered shrapnel wounds but made it out alive.

Leonard left the Army as a Staff Sergeant and returned to Lockport where he was a butcher and auto worker. He died in 1985 at age 71.

In 2002 Congress ordered the Pentagon to review the records of thousands of Distinguished Service Cross recipients to determine if they deserved a higher military honor. Initially the mandate was for the review of Jewish and Hispanic American war veterans, but Army officials found others who deserved a greater recognition. That included Staff Sgt. William Leonard.


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