Lockport soldier posthumously awarded Medal of Honor
A local man is among two dozen veterans scheduled to be honored today at the Pentagon after receiving the nation's highest award at the White House Tuesday for combat valor.
The late William F. Leonard of Lockport was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony yesterday at the White House. Tuesday, the Army will recognize Leonard for his actions while under fire in France during World War II.
"Better late than never. It's unfortunate, of course, that Mr. Leonard is no longer here. But his heroism should be rewarded," says State Senator George Maziarz.
Maziarz says Leonard's story came to light during a congressional review to determine if potential medal recipients were overlooked because of prejudice. Jewish and Hispanic recipients of the Service Cross were reviewed for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor.
"In the investigation process of that, Mr. Leonard who was neither Hispanic nor Jewish, it was found that there were several other veterans who were also overlooked, who had received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal that can be awarded," says the Newfane Republican.
Leonard is being honored for his actions on Nov. 7, 1944 in France.
According to the Army, then-PFC Leonard led members of his 30th Infantry squad on an assault of German forces, killing two snipers and a machine gun crew despite being shot. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroics.
Leonard returned to Lockport and retired from Harrison Radiator. He died in 1985.
Two of Leonard's daughters living Lockport attended the ceremony, along with another who lives in Louisiana. Two other Medal of Honor recipients are from Lockport: Civil War sailor Michael Huskey and Frank Gaffney, who fought in World War I.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report