June 18, 1925 - February 6, 1945
Lieutenant Garry Leonard enlisted February 1, 1943, as an Aviation Cadet and was called into service on July 13, 1943.
He was sent to Miami Beach for basic training and then to college at Gettysburg, Pa., for pre-aviation. At Classification School in Nashville, Tenn., he decided to follow navigation although he had qualified for all three--pilot, navigator, or bombardier. He was sent to pre-flight at Maxwell Field, Ala., and then to Buckingham Army Air Field in Fort Myers, Fla., where he had gunnery and received his gunner's wings. Garry attended the Army Air Force Navigation School in San Marcos, Texas, and graduated there as Second Lieutenant.
The last phase of his training took place at Dyersburg, Tenn., where he had lots of flying and navigation before he was sent to Lincoln, Nebraska, for assignment and overseas equipment.
Garry was sent to England and stationed at Eye. He and his group finished all required of them and asked to be sent on this particular long mission over Germany--just twenty days after they had reached England. The mission was successfully completed and the planes (B17's--Flying Fortresses) were returning in formation of twelve when a plane overhead had engine trouble and fell, pancake-like, on the plane navigated by Garry. Both planes fell quickly and only six members were saved. Garry was killed on Feb. 6, 1945 . He was a member of the 490th Bomb Group, and he is buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Epinal, France.
(Microfilm copy from Johnson Public Library)
Army Air Forces - United States Army Aviation
Army Air Forces
The Army Air Forces was formed in 1941, from the Army Air Corps, in response to the growing structure and mission that Army aviators were playing and the need for a more independent command structure. When created, several other nations had already adopted independent air forces but the United States made the decision to leave aviators as a part of the Army.
The Army Air Forces was born in one of the biggest steps toward an independent Air Force. With the threat of war looming, the aviation branch underwent a massive reorganization and the Army Air Forces was given control over all of Army aviation under the direct orders of then-Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall.
At the Air Corps' height, it had more than 2.4 million people and 80,000 aircraft in service and flew more than 2.3 million missions during World War II.
Eventually becoming the Air Force in 1947, many of the pilots and missions of the Army Air Forces moved to the newly formed branch of service.
The Army was left with a handful of pilots and planes flying observation missions for field artillery units, but this would be short-lived as a new and revolutionary concept in aviation would change modern combat forever.
Background image of Air Force Emblem obtained from: