The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.
Feb. 20, 1919
MEDFORD FIGHTER WINS PROMOTION ON BATTLEFIELD
Sergeant Paul Leonard, the first Medford soldier outside of Colonel E. E. Kelly and Lieutenant Floyd Hart who participated in the heavy fighting in France to arrive home, reached the city Thursday from Camp Lewis where he was mustered out of service. He served in France with Battery A, 56th coast artillery, and saw as much active service as any soldier from Jackson county, if not more. The 56th arrived in this country from France on January 18th, and Sergeant Leonard gained 15 pounds during his month’s stay at Camp Lewis.
“I regard myself as one of the luckiest men alive,” said this returned war veteran, who was commissioned as sergeant in the thick of the fighting in the Meuse-Argonne drive while his regiment was stationed in the Argonne woods.
The 56th regiment first went into battle at the second battle of the Marne on August 1st, at Chauteau Thierry, and left that sector a month later. The regiment’s next engagement was the Meuse-Argonne drive beginning September 26 and lasting until the armistice was signed November 11. In the Marne-Vesle engagement his battalion fired 1,077 rounds of ammunition, and during the Meuse-Argonne drive hurled 4,748 rounds into the Germans. The battery lost a number of men killed and three of its guns were blown up by German shells. The regiment’s casualties numbered 263 killed and wounded.
Sergeant Leonard is justly proud of having been promoted to his sergeantry while on the battlefield. His battery was at various times from 24 to 48 hours at a stretch constantly under shell fire from the enemy and all the while hurling from its own heavy guns masses of death-dealing metal and explosives into the enemy.
The Medford man had a number of close escapes from death or injury from enemy shells, but of these personal experiences he is modestly reticent.
Sergeant Leonard, one of the Medford members of former Company Seven, was one of the members of the 65th artillery and was en route to France with that command, when shortly before they sailed for France, a contagious disease broke out in the barracks where he was sleeping, and all soldiers in that compartment were placed in quarantine. The 65th departed for France and at the end of the quarantine period he was sent to France as a casual and assigned to the 56th heavy artillery.
He was the only Jackson county soldier in that regiment, and is one of the five Leonard brothers, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel L. Leonard, to serve their country during the war. Morris Leonard, a member of the 65th artillery, is at Camp Lewis and is expected home soon.
LOCAL AND PERSONAL
The fire department was summoned to James Leslie’s home at 39 North Peach street at 7:40 p.m. last night, to extinguish a fire in one of Mr. Leslie’s taxi cabs. It seems that the driver of the auto after filling the gasoline tank outside the garage struck a match to see how full the tank was and the gasoline compartment caught fire. The flames were extinguished after small damage was done to the cushions.