Company B, 1st Battalion
16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division
Near Suoi Da, RVN
28 February 1967

When PSG Leonard’s platoon was ambushed by a much larger enemy force and his Matthew_LeonardPlatoon Leader and several key NCOs and officers wounded in the first assault, Leonard quickly rallied his men into a counter-attack stopping the initial assault.  He then organized a defensive perimeter, redistributed ammunition, and inspired his men through his leadership and words of encouragement.

Leonard spotted a wounded soldier outside his perimeter and sprang into action, dragging the man to safety, but was hit by a sniper round that shattered his left hand.  PSG Leonard refused medical attention and lead the next counterattack. PSG Leonard moved from position to position urging his men on and directing fire against the well-entrenched enemy force.

The enemy moved a machine gun into a location where it could sweep the entire perimeter, made worse by the loss of the platoon’s sole heavy machinegun jammed. Leonard low crawled to the American 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.

This apparently angered the big man because, PSG  Leonard jumped to his feet, charging the enemy gun and, in spite of being wounded several times,  destroyed the hostile gun, killing its crew.

PSG Leonard sought cover by a tree, where he propped himself up against it, and continued to engage the enemy providing covering fire for his men, until he bled to death.

From PSG Mathew Leonard’s MOH citation:

“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.”


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