As we approach the anniversary of the D-day invasion it is important to remember the men and women who were there and reflect on what they went through that day. One of those men was retired Army Colonel Leonard Schroeder then a 25-year-old Captain. Col. Schroeder and his wife, Margaret, moved to Largo, Florida when he retired from the Army in 1971.
During his 30-year career he received many awards including a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart for his wounds at Normandy but he is perhaps best known for being credited as the first American to set foot on Utah Beach from a landing craft. That day Captain Schroeder was the tip of the spear for the Americans. As the story goes he and his men left the USS Barnett at 2:30 am in their landing crafts headed for the beaches. Schroeder’s landing craft carried 22 men towards the beaches including 56-year-old Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., President Roosevelt’s son. Roosevelt would die about a month later in France and would receive the Medal of Honor posthumously. They finally arrived on shore in their landing crafts at 6:28 am with an order to liberate a local village a few miles beyond the shore. Nearly half of the men were killed and Schroeder was shot multiple times in the arm requiring hospitalization and nearly an amputation.
It is important that we remember him as the hero that he is and what he did for our country that day. At the 50-year anniversary in Normandy, France he was honored and recognized for his efforts on D-day. Colonel Schroeder’s uniform and the boots he was wearing from that day are displayed at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, Florida along with a recording of his voice narrating his account of D-day. Colonel Schroeder and his wife lived only miles away from us at Veterans Funeral Care and we feel very proud to have had such a hero right in our backyard.
According to the Veteran’s Administration, approximately 492 WWII veterans die every day. That being said there will come a day when they are all gone. If you come across a WWII vet or are fortunate enough to know one make sure you tell them thank you for what they did for us.