Crossroads Black History: Leonard Roy Harmon
2017 marks the centennial of the birth of Leonard Roy Harmon. He was born in Cuero on January 21, 1917.
“He grew up in Cuero,” said Wayne Adickes, Chairman of the Cuero Heritage Museum. “He attended Daule school which was the black school here in Cuero and [he grew up here for all] his formative years.”
Harmon an African American sailor. He served in World War II aboard the USS San Francisco.
On November 13,1942 during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, his ship was under heavy enemy fire.
“He basically saw the medical doctor on the ship get hit and he was laying on the deck and the attack was continuing and he went out to pull him to safety and in the process got killed,” said Adickes. “He laid down his life for his comrades.”
Harmon’s heroism didn’t go unnoticed. He was awarded the Navy Cross .
And a year later in 1943. Harmon would become the first African American to have a warship named after him the USS Harmon.
“It certainly did recognize that we have a hero irrespective of his color. He went out and rescued people of any race.”said Adickes.
A recognition that his mother, Mrs. Naunita Harmon Carroll witnessed in 1943 during the launching ceremony of the ship named after her son.
A fighting ship named for a fighting man. In more ways than one.
Harmon’s first battle wasn’t at sea. In fact, it was at the Navy Recruiting Station. The Navy initially rejected him because of a minor heart condition.
“He kept trying to get in and traveled to San Antonio where they got him in. There’s no doubt he wanted to serve our country,” said Adickes.
Harmon’s local honors include a road named after him in Cuero and a historical marker at Cuero Municipal Park. But the Cuero Heritage Museum says it wants to move the monument to a better location.
“Right now many people don’t know where the monument is and while it is in the center of city park, its just not easy to see. We want to make it more visible to the public.”
More visible so that Harmon’s story of service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
The museum is also still collecting information on Harmon’s story and life. If you have any pictures, documents or know any of his relatives. Please contact the museum at 361-485-8090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.