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Ray Leopold
Ray Leopold
Waterbury, CT
Ray Leopold was born in Waterbury, Connecticut on December 13, 1914, the son of a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. He graduated from Wilby High School in 1933 and became a mortgage broker. He was drafted in September 1943, and after basic training was assigned to the 16th Armored Division and sent to Ft. Smith Arkansas for training. Then, the Division was disbanded and Leopold was shipped to Europe as a replacement infantryman. In the fall of 1944, he was assigned to the 28th Infantry Division, which (including Tom Galloway of Mobile) had recently arrived in the Ardennes after suffering terrible losses in the Hurtgen Forest.

In late November, Leopold was shot in the thigh while on guard duty. He crawled back to his dugout and, because his unit's medic had been killed a few days earlier, he used a German first aid kit and treated his own wound. Soon thereafter, his commanding officer made him a medic and assigned him to K Company, 3rd Battalion, 112th Regiment. On December 16, 1944 in Luxembourg, Leopold's Division, was among the first American units to be caught up in the massive German counter-attack that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Throughout the six week battle, Leopold worried about what would happen to him if he were taken prisoner, and hid his dog tags (marked with "H" for Hebrew) in his glove.

After the Bulge, Leopold remained with the 28th as they fought through the rest of the European campaign. From January to March 1945 they were charged with the defense of a series of positions around and along the German border.

In April, when Leopold and his unit passed through the town of Hadamar, Germany, he climbed a nearby hill to see for himself the local hospital, where Nazis doctors had taken the lives of more than 15,000 men, women, and children, and had conducted medical experiments on living human beings who had been deemed "unworthy of life" by Hitler.

Leopold went home on leave in July 1945, expecting to be sent to the invasion of Honshu. He was discharged on Thanksgiving Day 1945, and for a time returned to Waterbury to live. He married, had two children, and eventually became a fund raiser for many Jewish charities.