Congressional Medal of Honor


Matthew Leonard

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Matthew Leonard
Matthew Leonard

Rank and Organization: Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

Place and Date: Near Suoi Da, Republic of Vietnam, 28 February 1967.

Entered Service At: Birmingham, Ala.

Born: 26 November 1929, Eutaw, Ala.

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 machinegun into a location where it could sweep the entire perimeter. This threat was magnified when the platoon machinegun 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 machinegun. 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.

Source: Department of Defense.
Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy.
Black Americans in Defense of Our Nation.
Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1985.


Hansen, Jeff. "Medal of Honor Winner Now In Fit Grave." (2000). Retrieved August 4, 2003 from the World Wide Web at

"64th Medal of Honor." New York Times, December 19, 1968. P. 18.

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