DAR to honor Leonard DeWitt
The Yamhill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution nominated DeWitt for the national DAR Medal of Honor.
The local chapter received approval to present the award from the National DAR in Washington, D.C. It will be bestowed on DeWitt during the Oregon DAR’s annual state conference, being held at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville.
On July 28, 1943, DeWitt defended a ridgetop in New Guinea, putting himself at great risk to protect his fellow soldiers from the enemy. The DAR medal cites acts of “great bravery and heroism while serving in the Pacific with the 41st Infantry Sunset Division of the Army National Guard.”
Shortly after the incident, his commanding general nominated him for the Congressional Medal of Honor, citing his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.” He brought home numerous other honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest honor, but never received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Last year, the Oregon Legislature voted unanimously to urge Congress to reopen DeWitt’s nomination. “Seventy years after the battle ... his heroism is still deserving of the highest recognition and honor,” it declared.
DeWitt joined the Oregon National Guard in 1939. In addition to WWII, he served in the Korean War, earning a Purple Heart, and in Germany as part of the security forces. In recent years, he has spoken to veterans and other groups and helped with the campaign to build an Oregon WWII memorial in Salem.
In addition to the pending Congressional medal and the DAR award, DeWitt is being honored with a bronze statue. The sculpture, now nearing completion, will be mounted in a place of honor in McMinnville.