Ranger Leo Vincent Strausbaugh
Born: 1 January 1920, Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Illinois, USA
Died: 13 January 2011, Charleston, Illinois
Army Serial Number: 1172684
Ranger Battalion/Company: 6B
Enlisted: 24 March 1942, Illinois
Medals/Awards: Bronze Star, WWII Victory Medal, Combat Infantry Badge,
RANGER HALL OF FAME AWARD 2008 Type: INDUCTEE
Leo V. Strausbaugh was born on January 1, 1920 in Hillsboro, Illinois. He joined the Army on March 24, 1942, and was assigned to the U.S. Army Artillery base at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for three months of basic training and training on horse drawn artillery. Two months prior to his completion of basic, Leo was selected for OCS. On October 29, 1942, after completing OCS, Leo was promoted to 2nd Lt. and was assigned to the training center mule pack battery with 75 millimeter howitzers. In December of 1942, Leo was reassigned to the 98th Field Artillery Battalion located at Ft. Carson, Colorado. A few weeks later, the 98th was transported to Newport News, Virginia for shipment overseas, destination unknown. Leo was assigned to B Battery, led by Captain Arthur “Bull” Simons. In February of 1944, the 98th’s mules were shipped to Merrill’s Marauders, and LTC Mucci took over the 98th with the purpose of turning those who volunteered into a Ranger Battalion. Leo was one of the first to volunteer. The Ranger training in the mountains and jungles of New Guinea was rigorous. After Leo organized and led an impressive platoon demonstration for 6th Division, he was promoted to 1st Lt. Around the July 1, 1944, companies were organized to reflect the TOE of a Ranger Battalion. Capt. Simons led B Company, and, having his choice of officers, chose Leo to be his second in command. Training and organization completed, Leo and the Rangers were ready for action, just in time to spearhead the invasion of the Philippines. On October 18, 1944, two days prior to the main invasion force, Leo and B Company landed on Homonhon Island during the initial re-taking of the Philippines, then moved to Suluan to take out a Japanese held lighthouse used to signal enemy ships and send radio messages. Captain Simons made the initial assault on the light house, but he and his men became trapped in the lighthouse and surrounded by Japanese. Leo led thirty-five Rangers to the lighthouse, eliminated the Japanese threat, and rescued Captain Simons. In January 1945, the invasion force moved into the Lingayen Gulf in preparation for the invasion of Luzon. Ranger Companies B and E secured the island of Santiago, then moved onto Luzon. During May of 1945, Leo was appointed B Company commander and promoted to Captain. Soon thereafter, he was awarded the Bronze Star for leading B Company thirty miles beyond 6th Division front lines, to seek and locate Japanese positions. Leo located the Japanese positions in the vicinity of the IPO Dam and provided the intelligence for 6th Division’s attack. During June of 1945, Leo’s B Company was chosen to become a third segment of Major Connolly’s task force and take the town of Aparri from the Japanese. Strausbaugh’s Rangers, without the support of the 6th Ranger Bn., traveled over 400 miles on this 30 day mission, positioned themselves on the Cagayan River, gathered intelligence and on June 21st, took Aparri. B Company proceeded to and secured the air strip south of Aparri just prior to a jump by a battalion of paratroopers from the 11th Airborne. Strausbaugh’s Rangers pushed south and made contact with elements of the 37th Division which closed the gap, dividing the Japanese forces and giving the Americans control of the west side of the valley. The Aparri operation sealed the fate of the Japanese in the Philippines and ended combat operations for the 6th Rangers, freeing them to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The dropping of two atom bombs on Japan eliminated the need for that invasion. Following the war, Leo Strausbaugh, returning to Artillery, served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 28 years and rose to the rank of Colonel in 1969. In 1959 he graduated from Command and General Staff College (C&GS), Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Colonel Strausbaugh served as the Director of Instruction for the 5038th USAR School, 102nd Ozark Division, for five years. In 1973, one year before his retirement, Colonel Leo V. Strausbaugh was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame at Ft. Sill.
Leo Vincent Strausbaugh, 91, of Charleston, formerly of Hillsboro, died at 10:10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 at Heartland Christian Village in Neoga.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 921 Madison Avenue in Charleston, with the Rev. John Titus presiding. Graveside services, under the direction of Hough Funeral Homes, Hillsboro, will be held Friday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. at St. Agnes Cemetery in Hillsboro with the Rev. James L. Neuman presiding.
Born Jan. 1, 1920 at Hillsboro, he was the son of Joseph and Esther (Feraris) Strausbaugh. He married Mary Agnes Macey June 19, 1946 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Marshall. She preceded him in death Dec. 4, 1998.
Mr. Strausbaugh was a 1937 graduate of Hillsboro High School. He drove a truck for Kelly Food Service until joining the U.S. Army in March, 1942. He served during WWII in New Guinea and the Phillipine Islands, first with the 98th Field Artillery and later as a Ranger with the 6th Battalion.
Following his release from active duty in 1946, he returned to Hillsboro where he became owner and operator of Strausbaugh's News Agency. He sold the business in 1962 and went to work for the St. Louis Post Dispatch as a circulation manager until his retirement in 1984.
Mr. Strausbaugh served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1946 to1974. He taught artillery at Fort Sill, OK from 1946 to 1963. He was a graduate of Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, where he taught from 1963 to 1974. He was promoted to colonel in 1969 and went on to serve as director of instruction for the 5038th USAR School until 1974. He was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame at Ft. Sill in 1973 and the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Ft. Benning, GA in 2008.
In Hillsboro, Mr. Stausbaugh was a lifelong member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus Council #4608, American Legion Post #153, Moose Club #1377 and the Hillsboro Country Club. He served his church and community in various roles throughout his lifetime. He enjoyed golf, Bridge, reading, and his computer.
After moving to Charleston in 2002, he became a member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Socializing was a favorite activity whether at Lincoln Gardens, the Senior Center, Knights of Columbus fish fries, church activities, the Men's Book Club, or Methodist Men's Breakfast/Discussion group.
He spoke during Veterans' Day programs, to civic organizations, and school groups of all ages about his military experiences. He also enjoyed traveling and especially attending his Army Ranger reunions.
Survivors include a daughter, Andrea Spinner (husband Steve) Buchanan of Greenup; a son, Mark (wife Janie) Strausbaugh of Decatur; grandsons, Scott Spinner of McCordsville, IN, and Craig (wife Mandy) Spinner of Greenwood, IN; granddaughters, Jayma (husband Scott) Trahan of Decatur, and Nicole Strausbaugh (special friend Robert Dick) of Decatur; stepgrandchildren, Missy Jones of Greenup, Wendy Buchanan of Chicago, Eric Johnson of Glen Ellyn, and Megan Johnson of Decatur; stepgreat-grandchildren, Griffin Poore of Greenwood, Sophie and Elle Jones of Greenup, Krysten and Krissy Trahan of Decatur, Ryan Johnson of Glen Ellyn, and Miles Ross of Decatur; a sister, Eileen Uhlir of Findlay, OH; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and his younger brother, Lester Strausbaugh.