Retired July 31, 1964.
William E. Leonhard was born in 1914. Graduating from Middletown High School in 1932, he entered Pennsylvania State University in the fall of that year. In 1936 he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. Receiving a Regular Army commission by direct examination, he entered the Corps of Engineers as a second lieutenant.
The first three years of Lieutenant Leonhard's military career were spent with the 11th Engineer Regiment in Panama. Returning to the United States in September 1939, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his master of science degree in civil and electrical engineering. This was followed by additional studies in mathematics at Columbia University, New York City, and three months experimental work with searchlight development at Sperry Gyroscope Company, Brooklyn, N.Y. He served as executive officer, 15th Engineer Battalion, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg for six months followed by six months as an instructor at the Engineer Training Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., and six months as executive officer of a Heavy Pontoon Battalion at Fort Lewis, Wash.
At the outbreak of World War II, Captain Leonhard organized and trained an engineer regiment for construction work on the Alcan Highway, and served 18 months as regimental commander and chief of the southern sector of the highway. In this position, he was promoted to major and later to lieutenant colonel.
Transferred to Europe with the 20th Armored Division, Lieutenant Colonel Leonhard served successively as division engineer, division artillery commander, combat command commander and chief of staff, and later chief of staff of the 2d Armored Division in Central Europe campaigns. For meritorious service in the Rhineland campaign, he received the Bronze Star. Following the war, his assignment was on the staff of the engineer, Army Field Force at Fort Monroe, Va., for one year.
In 1947, Lieutenant Colonel Leonhard returned to Europe where he served four years as director of installations, Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, in Wiesbaden, Germany. He planned and supervised construction of five new runways in Berlin and numerous base developments in the U.S. and United Kingdom zones of Germany during the Berlin Airlift and was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1949 for his participation in the airlift.
In July 1950, Colonel Leonhard transferred to the U.S. Air Force and initiated construction of the U.S. bases in England and North Africa and the NATO build-up in France. Returning to the United States, he attended the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from 1951 to 1952.
Assigned to Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in June 1952, Colonel Leonhard served four years as chief of the Construction Division and deputy director of construction.
Colonel Leonhard was transferred to the Western Development Division, Headquarters ARDC, Inglewood, Calif., in July 1956 as assistant for installations. WDD became the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division in June 1957. In April 1958, Colonel Leonhard was named deputy commander, civil engineering, and assistant for site activation, Headquarters, Air Force Ballistic Missile Division. While assigned to AFBMD he received his promotion to brigadier general.
In June 1961 General Leonhard was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as director of budget, Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller.
On Oct. 23, 1961, he returned to Air Force Systems Command as deputy chief of staff, procurement and materiel. General Leonhard became chief of staff, Air Force Systems Command, Feb. 1, 1963.