World War II Veteran: Henry Leonard

Private First Class Henry Leonard, a 19-year old draftee from Ryan, was sent to fight in the Philippines in January of 1945. He was assigned to the Bush Masters, a group of National Guardsmen from Arizona, officially known as the 158th Regimental Combat Team.


During one mission, PFC Leonard was put into a squad with Corporal Schmidt and PFC Young. Leonard didn't even know the first names of the two young men he was fighting with that day. As the men went into action, Schmidt began to point at places where he believed enemy soldiers were hiding. A Japanese sniper watching the action shot and killed him. Leonard and Young took cover behind a hut.

(Henry Leonard) Well, Schmitty was out there and Schmitty wasn’t gonna stay out there. So all I said to Young was let’s go get him, and we shucked off our field packs and our ammunition belts and our rifles. And we took off and ran out there and grabbed him under the arms and dragged him back behind the hut. Because we had sort of an unspoken law amongst us, like, I guess you would call it a band of brothers. Anyway, the people you meet there in combat with are closer than anybody you’re ever gonna meet again. But we were never gonna leave anybody behind. They were always gonna go home. Whether they were dead or alive, their body went home. And Schmitty went home.

Henry Leonard was awarded the Bronze Star for bringing Cpl Schmidt’s body back from the front.

Iowa PBS