Léo Major was a Canadian soldier during World War II who was the only person known to win the Distinguished Conduct Medal in two separate wars, and for good reasons. He was injured when he was sent in during the Normandy Invasion in June 1944, where he lost partial vision of his left eye to a phosphorus grenade while fighting a group of Nazi soldiers. He refused to be evacuated, insisting he only needed his right eye to sight a rifle. But that’s not even what got him his medals.

Léo’s Background

Léo Major was born to French-Canadian parents. They lived in New Bedford in Massachusetts, and his father used to work for the American Railroad Company in the US, but they moved back to Montreal. It was said that he didn’t have a good relationship with his father, so he moved to live with his aunt at the age of 14. When he was 19, he enlisted and was sent overseas in 1941. As mentioned, he was in the D-Day Invasion, where he became instrumental in capturing a German Hanomag half-track.

Freeing Zwolle

In 1945, he and one of his best friends were tasked to scout the town of Zwolle. They were also tasked to warn the local Dutch resistance to take cover as there would be a heavy artillery attack the next morning, and they wanted to make sure no civilians would be harmed.

Léo Major at the age of 23.

Léo and his buddy, Willy Arseneault, set off for the town, but a German roadblock immediately caught them, and unfortunately, the German’s killed Willy. He was able to kill his assailant before he died, and Leo used the fallen soldier’s machine gun to kill two of the German soldiers while the others ran off. At this point, Léo had two choices: Go back and report what happened to his friend or move forward and carry on with his mission to inform the Dutch about the upcoming attack. He chose none as he decided to go rogue and spread fear of false news to his enemies.