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First Name: Matthew

Last Name: Leonard

Birthplace: Eutaw, AL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Birmingham, AL

Date of Birth: 26 November 1929

Date of Death: 28 February 1967

Rank: Sergeant First Class

Years Served: 1949 - 1967
Matthew Leonard

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Matthew Leonard
Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Sergeant First Class Matthew Leonard (26 November 1929 - 28 February 1967) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded America's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Matthew Leonard was born on 26 November 1929 in Eutaw, AL. He married his elementary school sweetheart, Lois, and they had five children.

Leonard entered the Army from Birmingham, AL, and he served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On 28 February 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 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 was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Citation: 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.

Matthew 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 19 December 1968.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Matthew Leonard's name is inscribed on Panel 15E - Line 119.

Death and Burial

Sergeant First Class Matthew Leonard was killed on 28 February 1967. He is buried at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, AL.

Honoree ID: 1010   Created by: MHOH




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