TURNEY WHITE LEONARD (1921 ~ 1944). Medal of Honor Recipient Turney Leonard was born in Dallas, Texas, on June 18, 1921. He graduated from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M University) in 1942 and joined the Army at Dallas.
Leonard was a First Lieutenant with Company C of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion at the time of a battle near Kommerscheidt, Germany, on November 4, 1944. Over the course of three days, Leonard repeatedly braved enemy machine gun, artillery, mortar, and small arms fire to scout ahead of his unit and direct anti-tank fire from dangerous positions. Once, when fired upon by and enemy machine gun, he advanced alone and killed its crew with a grenade. Later, a large German force threatened to overrun Allied positions which were unorganized after losing their leaders. Leonard ran forward to organize the confused men and lead the threatened infantry units.
He was wounded early in the fighting, but Leonard continued to lead until an explosion shattered his arm. He was seen at a medical aid station shortly before it was captured by the enemy. Leonard is thought to have died on either November 6 or 7. For his actions on November 4, 5, and 6, which prevented a German advance and exposed him repeatedly to enemy fire, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In 1946, Alfred Hutmacher, a resident of Kommerscheidt, was aiding in the locating of remains of soldiers who died in the battle two years before. On the battlefield he found Leonard's Texas A&M class ring; not knowing its significance, he kept it for posterity. Hutmacher's son-in-law, German Army Lieutenant Obit Volker Lossner, learned about the ring in 2000 and wanted to return it to its owner.
He contacted the U.S. Army liaison officer in Germany, Colonel Thomas Fosnacht, who contacted Texas A&M University. Texas A&M arranged for Lossner to fly to Texas and return the ring to the Leonard family. A ceremony took place at Texas A&M on Veterans Day of 2000, in which the ring was returned to the family, who announced that it would be donated to the university to be put on permanent display. Leonard is buried at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/LL/fle70.html, September 26, 2005. H.R. 980. Texas State Legislature, http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/77R/billtext/HR00980f.htm, October 13, 2005. Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, http://www.aggiecorps.org/home/former/distinguished/military/cmoh/leonard, October 13, 2005.