Raised by his widowed mother and siblings William was deferred from the military but saw his friends join and wished he was leaving with them.

Raised by his widowed mother and siblings William was deferred from the military but saw his friends join and wished he was leaving with them.

A second deferment due to flat feet kept him home until he received his letter stating that he could serve in the Army as a clerk/bookkeeper with limited service. He was sent to Battalion 884 because of his knowledge in Morse Code where he became their communications soldier. Mistakenly placed into combat duty, he found himself in a jeep with a 50-caliber machine gun. William remembers that a lot of the equipment was leftovers from WWI and faulty at that. His orders were to head for North Africa to stop Rommell and a quick change of orders sent him for more training, but sent the 884th Battalion into Africa without him.

He was then placed in the 81st Infantry Division (says his flat feet didn't bother him) as a machine gunner. His buddy and assistant gunner was later in the Battle of the Bulge and died from his wounds. His orders soon sent him to the same engineering college that Bob Dole attended, although William never met Mr. Dole while there.

William remembers that if a soldier made good grades while taking classes he was given a weekend pass, which ensured good grades from most of the soldiers. After this training he was placed in the 555th Signal Corps under General George Patton in France. Time was also spent with General McArthur's unit and he was one of the lucky soldiers who was able to see McArthur's home (mansion) but says he was disappointed in what he saw. It was not quite what he expected from a General's home.

When Truman dropped the bombs, William was in Luzon, Philippines and remembers that day very well. Since he was not married and without dependent children William was able to stay in France and was glad to work as a translator since he spoke a little French and German. Depression soon hit William after the bombs were dropped due to the fact that many women and children were killed and were innocent bystanders in the wartime efforts.

To this day, it still bothers him even knowing that the bombs saved many lives and servicemen were able to return home to their families. When 9-11 happened all this came back to William as he witnessed innocent people being killed. Coming back home in 1946, William used the GI Bill to go back to college and become the first member of his family to receive a college degree.

He was soon followed by a sister. His career consisted of working at Standard Oil, serving as a preacher in his church, and teaching at MCC. His most enjoyable experience was tutoring kids in math and science. William and his wife LaVerna will soon be married 59 years, have three children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

William's military history may be viewed in Veteran's Hall in the Parks and Recreation Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple Ave.

– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans submitted by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence