Artifact of the Month
Leroy Pond's World War II Uniform
Donated by Gertrude and Pat Pond
Leroy Pond (1917-1945) of Fayetteville was the youngest of three Pond brothers who served in the military during World War II. Pond graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1938 and and made the Army his career. Before the U.S. entered World War II, he spent most of his time preparing infantrymen for combat. Capt. Pond did not see battle until June 6, 1944 (his 27th birthday) by swimming ashore at Utah Beach on D-Day after his troop ship Susan B. Anthony hit a mine and sank. Pond's only mention of the incident was when he later wrote to his brother Lloyd, “I haven’t been swimming on my birthday in a long time.”
Pond fought almost continuously as commander of the 2nd Battalion (and later the 1st) of the 359th Regiment of the 90th Division of the U. S. Army from D-Day through the close of the Falaise Gap, winning several citations for his fearless brand of leadership. The press picked up on Pond’s aggressive style and bright red hair, nicknaming him “Fireball Pond;” he had earned the reputation of being one of the toughest commanders in France.
Pond rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel shortly before being fatally wounded near Dillengen, Germany on December 13, 1944. He died in the 98th General Hospital in Newbury, England on Jan. 15, 1945, and was temporarily interred in the American Cemetery at Cambridge, England. He was later laid to rest in the Fairview Memorial Park cemetery, Fayetteville, Arkansas, on August 10, 1948.
The ribbons above the left-breast pocket of Lt. Col. Pond's uniform represent the full-size medals pictured at left. Not worn in combat, ribbons are worn on "everyday" uniforms; medals are for dress uniforms and special occasions. Ribbons are always worn in their order of precedence, from the viewer's left to right, top to bottom. In this photo, the medals are arranged in order of precedence:
Distinguished Service Cross (with oak leaf cluster)
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Service Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Croix de Guerre (with silver star)