Canale, Leo P. (771st)

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Biography:  Leo P. Canale was born on August 11, 1919, in Watertown, Jefferson, New York. He was the son of Angelo T. Canale and Annita Tancreti and graduated from Watertown High School. While in high school, he excelled in football, basketball and tennis.

He continued his education at Syracuse University and received an honorable mention as an All-American as a fullback and as captain of his tennis team. Leo graduated in 1942, with a bachelor’s degree.

His enlistment record identifies his occupation prior the the war as unskilled work in the manufacture of automobiles. On November 28th, he married the former Margaret Susan Haas, who was also from Watertown and was the daughter of Leslie E. Hass and Ethel M. Corey.

Service Time:  Leo was drafted into the Army at the same time he was drafted by the National Football League; to both the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. He entered the military on August 19, 1942, at Syracuse, NY, and was assigned to the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion. During his time with the unit in the U.S., they trained at A. P. Hill Reservation, Virginia; Pine Camp, NY; Camp Hood, Texas; Fort Dix, New Jersey and Camp Shanks, NY. They shipped out from the New York port on October 21, 1943, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on November 2nd.

The 771st was chosen to train other TD personnel in the ETO Troop Replacement system and they remained in England. Company A eventually moved out and acted as an advanced unit to ship to France in late August. The rest of the battalion shipped out on September 15th and joined them on the mainland, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They entered combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line defenses along the Würm River on November 3rd. Leo was wounded on November 7, 1944, while in France.

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Participating in the drive to the Roer River, the unit held defensive positions there during December. Converting to the M36 tank destroyer in January, 1945, they supported the drive toward the Rhine River in February, crossing beginning March 31st and joining the 102nd ID’s drive across Germany to the Elbe River, reaching it on April 14th. They spent the remainder of the war helping to mop up bypassed pockets of resistance between the Rhine and the Elbe Rivers.

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Leo was awarded the EAME medal, with credit for the unit’s campaigns of Rhineland and Central Europe, along with the Good Conduct, Army of Occupation (Germany) and Purple Heart medals. He left the service at the rank of Sergeant.

He returned home in late 1945, and resumed his life with Margaret, moving to Gouverneur, NY, in 1946. He and Margaret had a daughter, Susan, that same year. Leo earned his Master’s Degree from Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY. He retired in 1975, after thirty years with the Gouverneur Central School, serving lastly as the director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics.

Leo and Margaret moved to Chaumont, NY, in 1976, and spent many winters in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Leo was a member of VFW Post 1400 and the Italian American Civic Association. In June, 2012, he was inducted into the Gouverneur Athletic Hall of Fame and in October, 2012, he attended his 70th reunion at Syracuse University.

Leo passed away on February 24, 2013, at Sacket’s Harbor, NY, and was buried in the Glenwood Cemetery, Watertown, NY. We would like to thank Find a Grave member J Delity for use of the grave marker photo. I also want to thank E-Yearbook.com for the photo of Leo as senior at Syracuse. The photo is used by permission of Digital Data Online, Inc.

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