U.S. ARMY Thomas L. (Leo) Purvis
CAMPAIGNS: Ardenees, Rhineland, Central Europe

Co. D 305th Medical Battalion Private First Class Surgical Technician

Awards: Expert Rifleman (In Basic Training)
Letter of Appreciation from President Truman

Leo Purvis was born January 28, 1914 to Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Purvis, a farm family living near Polkville, Mississippi. He grew up in rural Mississippi near Puckett. After finishing high school, he attended Copiah-Lincoln Junior College, where he was introduced to college football.

Next was the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattisburg. There in 1935 and 1936 more football. He played half-back on offense and safety on defense. He was also a punt return man. Apparently he was fast, because he was known as “Jack Rabbit” Purvis. Later, he was enrolled in the Southern Mississippi University Football Hall of Fame.

Following college he became a teacher and football coach at Carthage, Mississippi, where he met and married Margaret Elizabeth Williams, who at that time was a postal employee. Their first child, Thomas L. Jr. (now Dr. Purvis) was born there.

Their next move was to Philadelphia, Mississippi as Principal and Coach at the local high school. While there, their second child, Rebecca (now Becky Daye) was born.

January 11, 1944 his draft board gave him his notice. He began active service at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, February 1, 1944. His basic training as an infantry man was at Fort McLelland, Alabama. There he earned recognition as an expert rifleman. Dr. Purvis was a young boy at the time, but he remembers the long rides going to visit Daddy. While in training and ready to go overseas, Leo was granted a rare leave of absence. He was allowed to go and be present at the birth of his daughter, June 20, 1944.

A few weeks later, as a foot soldier with an M-1 rifle, and a member of a rifle platoon he went ashore at Normandy. These troops landing a few weeks after D Day were sometimes refered to as the second wave. Earlier casualities were so severe that there was a critical shortage of medics. Leo was offered the opportunity to transfer to the Medical Corps. He accepted and became a part of Medical Company D. He traded in his M-1 rifle for a 45 caliber pistol and a trunk full of narcotics, which was his primary responsibility. These were vital needs in emergency surgery and treatment. Medical Company D. as a unit of the 305th Medical Battalion was a support unit and part of General Patten’s drive across Europe to Germany.

Like many veterans, he did not talk a lot about these experiences, but there were a few stories, some about the speed and distance traveled, others about emergency calls of nature while riding in a convoy. There were times when they fell behind, because fuel trucks could not keep them all supplied with gasoline. He also remembered walking down dark streets and suddenly having to dodge into alleys and buildings to avoid strafing from German aircraft.

Leo received an Honorable Discharge from the Army, December 5, 1945

In 1947 Leo and his family moved to Louisiana to join his brother, Virgil in the automobile business. His Dealership, originally Purvis Pontiac, remained an active Ferriday business until 1979. While in Ferriday, Leo was an active member of the Methodist Church, Ferriday Rotary Club and the Quarterback Club.

Leo’s death came November 8, 1980 at one of his favorite locations, a Louisiana deer camp in the Glade Woods.

Submitted by his daughter, Rebecca (Becky Daye) and
his son, Dr. Tom Purvis


leo purvis


Leo Purvis  Medical Corps