Retirees Hoping to Honor Medal of Honor Winner

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A group of retirees needs to find the family of First Lt. Turney White Leonard before it can renovate his resting place. (Published Thursday, Jan 6, 2011)

    A group of retired Dallas police officers want to give a Medal of Honor recipient a burial place that befits his sacrifice. But they need to find his family first.

    First Lt. Turney White Leonard was born and raised in Dallas and gave his life for America during World War II.

    Group Wants to Renovate Medal of Honor Recipient's Grave Site

    [DFW] Group Wants to Renovate Medal of Honor Recipient's Grave Site
    A group of retirees needs to find the family of First Lt. Turney White Leonard before it can renovate his resting place. (Published Thursday, Jan 6, 2011)

    He was in Germany in 1944 when they came under fire from the enemy. Even though he was wounded, Leonard helped direct fire at German tanks, taking out six and saving several lives.

    He died and was later taken back to Texas to his final resting place at Grove Hill Cemetery in East Dallas.

    Leonard was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions.

    Roy Hodgens said Leonard should have the grave site of a hero.

    "I went to the grave site," he said. "There were no decorations whatsoever. I went and purchased a small flag and placed it on the grave. I returned on Veteran's Day, still no decorations."

    Hodgens started contacting elected officials from the city, county and state to see if anything could be done.

    Only two responded.

    Hodgens said one told him nothing could be done. The other official sent him a donation request for a re-election campaign.

    But the retired Dallas police officer didn't give up.

    With the help of several other retired Dallas officers, Hodgens started doing more research on Leonard. He found out the Medal of Honor recipient was a Texas A&M graduate, went to high school in Dallas and had a brother who was a Dallas police officer.

    "Later, I found out a few graves over lays Ernest Leonard, his brother that was a Dallas police officer that was killed in the line of duty in 1935," Hodgens said. "This family gave a lot for this state, city, country, nation."

    Benny Barrett Sr., a retired Dallas officer and retired Marine major, said the group has found two other Medal of Honor recipients buried in Dallas. He working with other retired veterans to upgrade the gravestones, starting with Leonard's.

    "The tombstone needs to be refitted, renovated," Barrett said. "The years have exposed it. It's not one of the metal plaques. It's one of the old sandstones, so it needs to be redone."

    But the group can't do anything without the consent of Leonard's family, and they can't find any remaining relatives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    The group continues to talk to veteran groups and look through archives to find any of Leonard's relatives. And when they do, Barrett said they'll be proud of the upgrade they plan for the Medal of Honor recipient.

    "When people come by, they can see. That's one of our heroes. That's a national treasure right there," Barrett said.

    If you know the whereabouts of the family of First Lt. Turney White Leonard, e-mail omar.villafranca@nbcuni.com.