Turney W. Leonard
Biography: Turney White Leonard was born on June 18, 1921, in Dallas, Texas. Turney was the son of Ernest Edmund Leonard and Lily Vertress Bell and attended local schools in the Dallas area. He would continue his education at Texas A & M University, graduating on May 16,1942, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. While at the University, he took part in the Marketing and Finance Clubs, excelling academically as a member of the Scholarship Honor Society and was identified as a Distinguished Student. He also excelled in his military training, receiving a Best Drilled I Medal, in 1940. He received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army, in 1942.
Service Time: Turney entered the service and received additional training at the Tank Destroyer Center at Camp Hood, Texas, in their Officer Training Course. In early 1943, he was assigned to Company C of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion as a platoon leader. At the time, they were stationed at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
The unit shipped out from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived at Liverpool, England, on the 20th. After more than 5 months of additional training, they boarded transports and landed at the Omaha beachhead on July 1st. They were equipped with M10’s and were committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye. Advancing to Paris by August 25th and then to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel, they moved into the Hürtgen Forest in November, supporting the 28th Infantry Division’s objectives to take Schmidt and clear Monschau.
The 893rd was assigned to the First Army and attached to the V Corps and 3rd Tank Destroyer Group. Company C was attached to the 28th Infantry Division supporting the infantry either from indirect firing positions or by close-in anti-tank support in direct fire positions. On November 4th, 5th & 6th, C Company was heavily engaged in fighting around the Village of Kommerscheidt, which is located, just west of Schmidt. It was during these actions that 1st Lt. Leonard W. Turney would display extraordinary heroism in leading his platoon and related allied troops to hold off the enemy attack. He was wounded in the arm on the first day but he was wounded more seriously in that same arm on the 6th, by a mortar round.
He was able to make it to an aid station which was about to be overrun and was left behind with the other seriously wounded men, in the hopes that the Germans would provide medical care. Turney ordered a medic to place him in a concealed foxhole with a weapon, clearly identifying that he did not wish to be taken prisoner.
He was initially identified as Missing In Action by a telegram received by his mother on November 27th. He was later declared dead and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on September 1, 1945. The medal was presented to his mother on October 24, by Maj. General Walton H. Walker. The following is the Citation:
His remains were found in November 1949, and were eventually brought home and buried in the Grove Hill Memorial Park, in Dallas, TX, on May 31, 1950.
Company C lost 11 M10s in November, 8 being destroyed by enemy anti-tank and artillery fire. 38 men were lightly wounded, 12 serious wounded, 20 were identified as missing in action and 9 were killed in action. The unit would go on to received credit for five campaigns, including Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe.
It would be fifty years later that Turney’s college ring was brought to U.S. authorities in Germany and was returned to the Leonard family by German army officer Lt. Volker Lossner in ceremonies held on November 11, 2000, at Texas A & M. The ring had been originally found by Lossner’s father-in-law, in 1946, while aiding American forces searching for remains of soldiers.
I want to thank E-yearbook.com for the photo of Turney as a senior at Texas A & M University. The photo is used by permission of Digital Data Online, Inc. I also want to thank Find A Grave contributor, David N. Lotz, for the use of the grave marker image.