Leonard R. Magala
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Leonard R. Magala, 92, of Weil am Rhein, Germany, formerly of Butler, died peacefully in Germany on Dec. 14, 2012.
It has been 100 years since Leonard's parents, Martin and Catherine Magala, made their voyage from Slovakia to the United States, where Leonard was born on April 14, 1920, in Butler. It was the beginning of a long and eventful life.
Leonard and his four siblings grew up in Butler, where he attended school and graduated from Butler High School in 1937.
In 1939, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and, as a private first class in the military, was transferred to Hawaii, where he received training as a radio operator and sharp shooter. Promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and technical sergeant, he was stationed at Hickum Field during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Flying more than 100 missions as radio operator and gunner, mostly on B24s, the battles and campaigns he fought during World War II were in New Guinea, the Central Pacific and the Asiatic Pacific.
In recognition of his gallantry and courage in battle, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1943, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the American Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal.
Leonard was a proud member of the "Jolly Rogers" 90th Bomb Group Association.
In 1945, he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army.
He joined the Coast Guard, licensed as a Merchant Marine Officer and radio operator, before becoming a civil engineer with General Electric. In 1959, having signed a contract with G.E. to build radar stations in Southern Germany for the German government, he moved to Germany with his first wife and three children. Leonard retired from G.E. in the early 1970s.
In 1972, he married his second wife, Edda, in Zollikofen, Switzerland. They settled in Weil am Rhein, Germany, where they have been living ever since. In the early 1990s they established a second residence in Clearwater, Florida.
Before his final retirement in 1985, Leonard worked as a radio operator at Lahr Canadian Military Airport in Germany and also as adviser to two small German companies.
He was an avid golfer and a seasoned traveler.
MAGALA - Leonard R. Magala died Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Following cremation in Germany, Leonard's ashes will be returned to Butler for inurnment on the family lot in Calvary Cemetery.
Local arrangements are entrusted to Geibel Funeral Home, 201 E. Cunningham St., Butler.
Published in Butler Eagle from Dec. 22 to Dec. 23, 2012