Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

WWII Vet with Two Purple Hearts, By Leigh Shughrou

Oct 30, 2016 08:15PM ● By Elena Hutslar

Leonard with his 96th birthday cake.

Leonard Snyder (Len) who recently celebrated his 96th birthday, is a WWII veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient. He has received meal deliveries from Meals on Wheels (MOW) since 2010, as did his wife, Louella, until she passed away in 2012. "I miss her horribly," says Len.


Len and Louella's story would make a best-selling novel. An Air Force pilot in WWII, Len's Horsa Glider was shot down with twenty-three crewmembers onboard. Len successfully landed the plane in a tree to avoid as many fatalities as possible.  He and the survivors were rescued by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (comprised mostly of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry). 


Badly injured, Len was flown back to a hospital for recovery in Springfield, Ohio.  The chief surgical nurse in charge of his ward declared, "I'll be running the show here, and my name is Louella." "I had to compete with colonels, majors and five other captains for Louella's attention in the ward," says Len proudly. The two were happily and deeply in love for over sixty-five years.


Len was attending art school (after receiving two scholarships) when he was drafted and had to cut his college life short. When he was shot down, his right index finger had to be amputated. It didn’t affect his artist skills, though; he was hired on the spot by Mr. Packard of Hewlett Packard and drew the cover of the very first Hewlett Packard Journal.