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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:01 PM
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Leroy C. Cloud

Leroy C. Cloud

After nearly 80 years, the remains of Staff Sergeant Leroy C. Cloud, U.S. Army, World War II, have been positively identified and are being returned to Taylor for burial.

Leroy C. Cloud was born on August 13, 1919, in central Texas. His parents were Stephen Ross Cloud and Millie Cloud, of Route 1, Thrall, Texas. Cloud was the brother of long time Taylor resident, Ross Cloud, a cotton farmer who farmed land across from Granger Lake.

Leroy was raised a Methodist in Taylor and Thrall, Texas. A graduate of Thrall High School, Leroy was outstanding in football.

When Leroy entered the military, he was 5 ft 7 inches tall, and 168 lbs. He had brown hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Leroy entered the Army at Fort Sam Houston on February 4, 1941. Cloud was the first Thrall boy to be called into service after the national conscription act. At the time of his entry into the military, Leroy was performing county road maintenance work under the employ of Will C. Stearn. Staff Sergeant Cloud served in Company A, 744th Tank Battalion, in the European Theater during World War II. In the weeks following the June 6, 1944 “D-Day” invasion of northern France, the allied armies struggled to move inland from the beaches of Normandy on the coast of France along the English Channel.

On the morning of July 25, 1944, the First U.S.

Army launched operation COBRA, an offensive with the aim of breaking out from the Normandy beachhead near the city of Saint-Lo, France. The attack began when nearly 2,400 aircraft of the U.S. Army Air Corps bombed German positions along the Periers-Saint-Lo highway west of Saint-Lo. Staff Sergeant Cloud’s 744th Tank Battalion was attached to the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, east of Saint-Lo. As the Allies launched their attack south of the Normandy beaches, Staff Sergeant Cloud’s unit was on the far eastern flank, east of Saint-Lo. Most of the U.S. Army’s forces were attacking southward from the west side of Saint-Lo.

On July 26, 1944, Staff Sergeant Cloud was killed near the village of Saint-Germain-d’ Elle, France.

Staff Sergeant Cloud’s M5A1 Stuart light tank was struck by enemy bazooka fire and subsequently caught fire.

Two of the four crewmembers were able to escape, but Staff Sergeant Cloud and another soldier died in the incident. The strong German presence and heavy shelling in the area where Staff Sergeant Cloud’s tank was destroyed prevented unit members from recovering his remains. Staff Sergeant Cloud remained unaccounted for following the war.

Operation COBRA ended up being very successful.

During the campaign which lasted from July 25-31, 1944, the Allies were able to breakthrough the German defenses and advance over 40 miles to the south, past Avranches, France.

On July 30, 1944, American Graves Registration Command personnel recovered two sets of remains from an M5A1 Stuart light tank.

Investigators estimated the vehicle was destroyed around July 25 or July 26, 1944, in the vicinity of Saint-Lo, France. Ultimately, the AGRC did not identify these remains, designated X-141 and X-142 St. Laurent.

These remains were interred in the Normandy American Cemetery, France, in a grave for unknown soldiers.

In April 2018, the Department of Defense and the American Battle Monuments Commission exhumed Unknown Remains X-141 St. Laurent from Normandy American Cemetery for forensic analysis. The Defense POW/ MIA Accounting Agency conducted an anthropology analysis, observations of injury, biological profile, DNA analysis and dental analysis. Based on their research, the DPAA Europe-Mediterranean Directorate concluded that the totality of the available evidence establishes the remains as those of Staff Sergeant Cloud and the conclusion is historically supportable.

The DPAA finally issued an official Certificate of Death on August 29, 2023 after conducting an autopsy. The cause of death was listed as “blast injuries.”

Since the end of World War II, Staff Sergeant Cloud has been memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. His remains are being brought back to the U.S. for burial on April 6, 2024 at the Taylor City Cemetery.

Surviving family members include descendants of Ross Cloud, Leroy’s brother. These family members include Stephen Lee Cloud, son of Ross Cloud; and Janice Cloud Dishman, daughter of Ross Cloud.

Grandchildren of Ross Cloud include Jason Bradley Cloud of Abilene; and Paula Renee Cloud. Great-grandchildren of Ross Cloud include Austin Cloud, Carson Cloud and Katie Cloud, children of Jason Cloud; and Patience and Purity, children of Paula Rene Cloud. Other family members include Ross Cloud’s step-daughters, Carolyn Appel Shinn, Taylor High School Class of 1960; and Janet Appel Owen (deceased). Stepgrandchildren include Teresa Shinn Neal of Austin; Linnea Shinn Costas of Austin; Dianna Shinn Cooper of Castle Rock, Colorado; Alan Shinn of San Marcos, Texas; Sheree Owen Bailey of Austin; and Cindy Owen Elbrecht of Austin; and their many descendants.

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