DAVID LEON RANKIN
AUGUST 13, 1918 - OCTOBER 6, 2020
Mr. David Leon Rankin, E-6, retired from the United States Army and Air Force, passed away at the age of 102 in Laredo, Texas.
Born as a proud member of THE GREATEST GENERATION, he exemplified all this generation is and has been to all of us. He was born at home in San Antonio, Texas to John and Kate Rankin on August 13, 1918. On December 6, 1956, Leon married the love of his life, Margareta M. Webber, in San Antonio, Texas. Growing up as the son of a farmer, at the age of 17, Leon joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. While enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Leon was involved in the billions of trees planted, bridges, dams and fire trails built, plus all the other projects that are still much in evidence today.
Leon considered the CCC to be far more than a place to work, he credits the CCC for giving him the foundation and inspiration to go on and build a better life for himself. During the time in the CCC, Leon worked his way up to rock mason in dam building and bulldozer operator.
He also attended night high school classes and that is where he obtained his high school diploma. During World War II, Leon was a member of General George S. Patton’s 2nd Armored “Hell on Wheels” Division. He served as squad leader in the 41st Armed Infantry Regiment for the duration of the war. His favorite Generals were: General Patton, General Simpson and General Harmon. Leon received numerous medals including the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, The Belgium Croix de Guerre, Combat Readiness Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation medal, Air Force Presidential Medal, The NATO Medal, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.
Leon was in the lead armored personnel carrier that entered Palermo, Sicily after racing General Montgomery. This race is immortalized in the movie, “Patton”, starring George C. Scott. He also was in the convoy who fought in the forces that saved the 101st Airborne Paratroopers who had been dropped behind German lines at Caretan. Leon was involved in the invasion of French Morocco, invasion of Sicily and the invasion of Normandy, France. Leon fought in Normandy, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. Leon fought in the Battle of the Bulge and many battles in Germany. The 2nd Armored Division was the first US Division to enter Berlin. Due to the Berlin duty, Leon did not arrive home until October 28, 1945, at which time he was discharged from the US Army.
After World War II, Leon went to Beaumont, Texas and worked for T&T Construction Company, building a chemical plant for DuPont Chemical Company. After 18 months, the plant was completed and every one was laid off and Leon returned to San Antonio. While in San Antonio, Leon visited his cousin, James Rankin at Brooks Air Force Base. James stated that he could not find a job so he joined the US Air Force, which was a new military branch of service. He suggested that Leon also join the US Air Force. The next day, Leon joined the US Air Force and three days later, he was shipped to Germany. There at Gamisch-Partakirchen, Germany, Leon met the love of his life, Margareta Weber. Margareta was visiting her aunt who owned a hotel in Gamisch. Leon was stationed at Munchen Air Base as part of the occupation troops in southern Germany. Upon returning to the United States, Leon was assigned to Kelly Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Leon hoped to get Margareta immigrated to the United States through the US Embassy in Salzburg, Austria. Margareta did apply but was told that there would be a ten year wait because there were about 1200 applicants. He decided to write to then Senator, Lyndon B. Johnson and about two weeks later, Leon received a letter from him stating that Margareta had been moved up to number one and she would be arriving in the United States in about two weeks. The next day Leon received a letter from Margareta stating the exact time and date she would arrive at the San Antonio airport. Leon had already visited his records personnel office and volunteered for a shipment to Germany. Leon and Margareta were married on December 6, 1956 in San Antonio, Texas. About six weeks later, Leon was notified that he had been selected for shipment to Germany, Leon and Margareta served two-four year terms before being transferred to Cannon, AFB, in Clovis, New Mexico. After serving one year at Cannon Air Force Base. David Leon was honorable discharged, ending his military service. David Leon and Margareta moved to Houston and Leon was employed by his brother, Elmer Howard. When E.H. decided to retire, Leon took charge of the Rankin Automatic Transmission Shop in Laredo, Texas. Leon retired in year 2009. His dear wife Margareta passed away on May 23, 2014.
Leon is survived his nephew, Ken Camp Jr. and grandniece, Jeannee (David) Beltran of San Antonio.
Leon will be laid to rest Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, where he will be laid to rest alongside his beloved wife, Margareta at a date and time to be announced.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care and direction of the funeral service professionals at Joe Jackson North Funeral Chapels & Cremation Services, 1410 Jacaman Rd., Laredo, Texas 78041; (956)722-8850.