Leonard F. Wing

Leonard F. Wing

Leonard F. Wing
Nickname(s) "Red"
Born (1893-11-12)November 12, 1893
Ira, Vermont
Died December 19, 1945 (1945-12-20) (aged 52)
Rutland, Vermont
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1918-1945
Rank Major General
Commands held 172nd Infantry Regiment
86th Infantry Brigade
68th Field Artillery Brigade
43rd Infantry Division ("Winged Victory")
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Pacific Theater of Operations
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Presidential Unit Citation
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Other work Attorney
Chairman, Vermont Republican Party
Executive Assistant, Governor Stanley C. Wilson

Leonard Fish Wing, Sr. (November 12, 1893 - December 19, 1945), nicknamed "Red", was a Vermont political figure and a division commander in the United States Army during World War II.

Early life

Leonard Wing was born in Ira, Vermont on November 12, 1893. He graduated from Rutland High School in 1910, and then attended Norwich University. Afterwards Wing studied law, attaining admission to the bar in 1917.[1][2]

World War I Military Service

Wing enlisted in the Army for World War I, served at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, Fort Gordon, Georgia, and Fort Dix, New Jersey. Wing completed officer training, received a commission and attained the rank of First Lieutenant. He served as the supply officer for the 2nd Infantry Replacement Regiment until the end of the war, and was discharged at Fort Dix in December, 1918.[2][3]

Post-World War I

After his discharge Wing returned to Rutland and established a law practice. From 1919 to 1921 he served as Rutland City Attorney, and he was Rutland's City Judge from 1921 to 1925.[4]

Wing was active in Republican party politics, and served on the state Republican Committee, of which he was Chairman from 1925 to 1929. He also attended numerous state and national party conventions, including serving as a delegate to the 1940 Republican national convention.[5]

In 1919 Wing joined the Vermont National Guard's 172nd Infantry Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. He rose through the ranks and in 1933 received promotion to Colonel as the 172nd's commander. That year he earned statewide praise from business owners and condemnation from laborers after leading his regiment to break a strike of Barre granite workers.[6]

In 1933 Wing was named Executive Assistant to Governor Stanley C. Wilson, serving until the end of Wilson's term in 1935.[7][8]

Wing was promoted to Brigadier General in 1937 as commander of the 86th Infantry Brigade, at the time a subordinate command of the New England based 43rd Infantry Division.[9]

In 1939 Wing was elected to the Norwich University Board of Trustees.[10]

World War II

From left to right -- I Corps Commander Major General Innis P. Swift, Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, Commander 7th Amphibious Force, Major General Leonard F. Wing, Commander, 43rd Division. January 3, 1945, aboard USS Blue Ridge.

In 1941 the 43rd Division mobilized for service in the Pacific Theater. In 1942 Wing was named commander of the division's 68th Field Artillery Brigade, and later that year he was appointed the 43rd's Assistant Division Commander. Wing became commander of the division as a Major General in 1943. He successfully rebuffed attempts to replace him with a regular Army officer, as was done in most divisions, making him one of three National Guard officers to command a combat division in World War II.[11][12][13][14] The other National Guard officers who commanded combat divisions, Robert S. Beightler of the 37th Infantry Division and Raymond S. McLain of the 90th Infantry Division, received commissions in the regular Army, which is likely the source of the claim that Wing was the only National Guard officer to command a combat division in World War II.[15][16][17][18][19][20] Wing's success at keeping his command was especially noteworthy because he had been diagnosed with heart disease, and could have asked to be relieved on medical grounds.[21][22]

The 43rd Division, named "Winged Victory" in honor of its commander, saw action at Guadalcanal, Rendova, New Georgia, New Guinea and Luzon. It played a vital role in the capture of the Ipo Dam outside Manila, Philippines, taking the city's main water source intact and breaking Japanese resistance, an action for which it received the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.[23][24][25][26][27][28]

The 43rd Division served on occupation duty in Japan before being deactivated in October, 1945.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]

Post-World War II

Drawing of Wing displayed at Headquarters, 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry, Vermont National Guard, Jericho, Vermont.

After returning home at the end of 1945, Wing spent time in the hospital to recuperate from pneumonia and other ailments. He took part in victory parades throughout New England in November and December, and was elected President of the Vermont Bar Association. He was considered a likely candidate for Governor, and if incumbent Mortimer Proctor adhered to tradition and left office after one term, Wing would likely have won the Republican nomination. In a state where only Republicans held statewide office from the 1850s to the 1960s, Wing would almost certainly have been elected Governor in 1946.[40][41]

Death and political ramifications

Bronze military grave marker, Leonard F. Wing
Individual grave marker, Leonard F. Wing

Wing's plans to run for Governor were ended when he died of a heart attack at his home in Rutland on December 19, 1945. He was buried in Rutland's Evergreen Cemetery.[42][43][44][45]

As a result of Wing's death, Ernest W. Gibson, Jr., an officer on Wing's staff during the war, ran for the Republican nomination, defeated Governor Proctor, and won the 1946 general election.[41][46][47][48]

Awards and Honors

General Wing's military awards and decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star.[49][50][51][52]

Norwich University awarded Wing honorary Master of Science (1938)[53] and Master of Military Science (1946) degrees.[54]


Leonard F. Wing was married twice. In 1919 he married Bernice Kidder (1894-1923), with whom he had a son. In 1924 Wing married Margaret Dorothy Clark (or Clarke) (1897-1960), with whom he had a son and a daughter.[55][56][57][58][59]

Leonard F. Wing, Jr. (1923–2005), also a Norwich University graduate, and World War II veteran who was taken prisoner by the Germans and later escaped. He became a prominent attorney who served as President of the Vermont Bar Association. The younger Leonard Wing served in the Vermont National Guard, attaining the rank of Brigadier General as commander of the 86th Armored Brigade in the late 1960s. In 1991 he endowed the Major General Leonard F. Wing Scholarship at Norwich University.[60][61]

Bruce Clark Wing was born in Rutland on February 5, 1925, and died in Rutland on May 11, 2000.[62][63][64]

Patricia Margaret Wing was born in Rutland in 1926.[58]

The Wing family remained prominent in Vermont legal circles, including Leonard Wing, Jr.'s daughter, Joan Loring Wing, (1948–2009), an attorney in Rutland who served as President of the Vermont Bar Association.[65][66]


  1. The Fish Family in England and America, Lester Warren Fish, 1948, page 200
  2. 1 2 The History of the 43rd Infantry Division, 1941-1945, by Joseph E. Zimmer, fourth edition, 2008, pages 173 to 174
  3. Official Army National Guard Register, published by the National Guard Bureau, 1922, page 254
  4. Volume 129 (1925), Atlantic Reporter: Cases Argued and Determined in the Courts of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, published by West Publishing Company, St. Paul, MN
  5. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 35 (1967), page 190
  6. Newspaper article, Recall Troops Who Get Tough, Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 12, 1933
  7. Vermont Legislative Directory, printed by the Vermont Secretary of State, 1933, page 540
  8. The Star That Set: The Vermont Republican Party, 1854–1974, by Samuel B. Hand, 2003, page 142
  9. Report of proceedings of the annual meeting, published by Vermont Bar Association, Volume 39 (1945), page 41
  10. Report of proceedings of the annual meeting, published by Vermont Bar Association, Volume 40 (1946), page 83
  11. Guard Wars: The 28th Infantry Division in World War II, by Michael E. Weaver, 2010, page 115. This work indicates that 18 of 29 mobilizing divisions in 1941 were National Guard organizations, and that active Army planners believed replacing National Guard division commanders with active duty officers was necessary.
  12. The Vermont Encyclopedia, by John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand, and Ralph H. Orth, 2003, page 14. The authors note in their introduction that Wing was the only National Guard officer to remain in command of a National Guard division in World War II.
  13. World War II History, 152nd Field Artillery Association web site, accessed February 25, 2011. The authors of the World War II history of 152nd Field Artillery Battalion, a 43rd Division unit, note that Leonard F. Wing was the only National Guard officer to command a World War II division.
  14. The Vermont Story: A History of the People of the Green Mountain State, 1749-1949, by Earle Williams Newton, Vermont Historical Society, 1949, page 255. The author notes that General Wing was the only National Guard officer to command a World War II division.
  15. Ohl, John Kennedy (2001). Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. xi. ISBN 1-55587-923-3. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  16. Newspaper article, Beightler Nominated, Christian Science Monitor, July 27, 1946
  17. Newspaper article, Senate OKs Beightler, Baltimore Sun, July 28, 1946
  18. Newspaper article, Beightler Confirmed, by Associated Press, Toldeo Blade, August 3, 1946
  19. Newspaper article, Lausche Names Three As National Guard Generals, Youngstown Vindicator, September 5, 1946
  20. Herbert, Paul Hardy (1988). Deciding what Has to be Done: General William E. DePuy and the 1976 Edition of FM 100-5, Operations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 13–14.
  21. Magazine article, President and Soldiers Pay Gen. Wing Tribute, The Rattle of Theta Chi, published twice a year by Theta Chi Fraternity, April, 1946, page 5
  22. Tribute to Leonard F. Wing, Jr., Speech, U.S. Senator James M. Jeffords, May 11, 2005
  23. Newspaper article, Munda Field Capture Was Work Of 43d, Hartford Courant, December 10, 1943
  24. Newspaper article, Yank Artillery Turned on Baguio, Deseret News, (Salt Lake City, Utah), March 17, 1945
  25. Newspaper article, US Paratroops Seize Southern Luzon Airfields, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1945
  26. Newspaper article, Dam Captured In Philippines Fight, Palm Beach Post, May 13, 1945
  27. Newspaper article, Guns Roar Salute For Gen. Wing, Hartford Courant, October 10, 1945
  28. The Yanks are coming: the American invasion of New Zealand, 1942-1944, by Harry Bioletti, 1989, page 135
  29. Newspaper article, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wing Ill, New York Times, October 18, 1945
  30. Newspaper article, Maj. Gen. Wing Improves, New York Times, October 23, 1945
  31. Norwalkers to Attend Gen. Wing's Reception, Newspaper article, The Norwalk Hour, November 27, 1945
  32. Newspaper article, Gen. Wing Praises The 43rd Division, Norwalk Hour, December 3, 1945
  33. Newspaper article, Hildreth, Gen. Wing Arrive Here Today, Lewiston Daily Sun, December 7, 1945
  34. Combined Arms in Battle Since 1939, edited by Roger J. Spiller, 1992, pages 252 to 256
  35. Facts on File Yearbook, published by Facts on File, Inc., 1945, Volume 22, page 415
  36. Into the shadows furious: the brutal battle for New Georgia, Brian Altobello, 2000, page 229
  37. World War II in the Philippines: Manila, Bicolandia, and the Tagalog provinces, published by Veterans Federation of the Philippines, 1993
  38. Pictorial history of the Philippines, by Pedrito Reyes, 1953, page 402
  39. The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla, by Yay Panlilio, 2009, page 308
  40. The Vermont story: a history of the people of the Green Mountain State, 1749-1949, by Earle Williams Newton, 1949, page 255
  41. 1 2 The Vermont Political Tradition and Those Who Helped Make It, by William T. Doyle, 1992 edition
  42. Newspaper article, Obituary, General Leonard F. Wing, Hartford Courant, December 20, 1945
  43. Newspaper article, High Ranking Officers Die, Berkeley (California) Daily Gazette, December 21, 1945
  44. Newspaper article, Body of Gen. Wing to Lie In State In Rutland, Vt., Hartford Courant, December 21, 1945
  45. Magazine article, Milestones, Time magazine, December 31, 1945
  46. Newspaper article, Sen. LaFollette to Try for New term in Senate, Associated Press, published in St. Petersburg Times, August 13, 1946
  47. Newspaper article, Governor of Vermont Denied Renomination, Los Angeles Times, August 14, 1946
  48. Newspaper article, Gibson Hits at Stand of Party Leader, The Christian Science Monitor, November 12, 1946
  49. Newspaper article, Posthumous Citation For General Wing, Hartford Courant, January 22, 1946
  50. Alphabetical Index of Recipients of Major Military Awards, Military Times, Hall of Valor web site, accessed January 30, 2011
  51. Leonard F. Wing, Sr. page, World War 2 Awards.com web site, accessed January 30, 2011
  52. The Rattle of Theta Chi, published twice a year by Theta Chi Fraternity, April, 1948
  53. The Rattle of Theta Chi, published by Theta Chi Fraternity, Volumes 31-36, 1942, page 6
  54. Newspaper article, Eisenhower Says U.S. Disarmament Must be Limited, By William M. Blair, New York Times, June 10, 1946
  55. Vermont Marriage Certificate, Leonard Wing and Bernice Kidder
  56. Vermont Death Certificate, Bernice Kidder Wing
  57. Vermont Marriage Certificate, Leonard F. Wing and Margaret Clark
  58. 1 2 US Census Entry, Leonard F. Wing family, 1930
  59. Vermont Death Record, Margaret Wing
  60. Newspaper article, Obituary, Leonard F. Wing, Jr., Rutland Herald, May 2, 2005
  61. Norwich University Alumni Association Newsletter, List of Scholarships for Vermont Students
  62. Vermont Birth Certificate, Bruce Clark Wing
  63. Vermont Death Certificate, Bruce Clark Wing
  64. Social Security Death Index Entry, Bruce Clark Wing
  65. Newspaper article, Obituary, Joan Loring Wing, Rutland Herald, December 9, 2009
  66. Annual Report, published by Vermont Bar Association, 2008
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