Thursday, February 22, 2018

WW2 Fallen - William Nelson, Medal of Honor hero, 9th Infantry Division

Sgt. William Nelson served with these men from the 60th Infantry Regiment. 
William L. Nelson never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on February 22, 1918 in Delaware. His parents Clarence and Carrie were also both born in Delaware. His father worked as a farmer. William had a younger sister.

He was drafted into the army on January 9, 1941. While in the army he married Rebecca M. Pyle on September 8, 1941. He became a sergeant and mortar section leader in Company H, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.

The 9th Infantry Division was one of the first units to see action in World War 2. It landed in Morocco in November 1942. Sgt. Nelson's first major engagement with the Germans was at the Battle of Sedjenane in northern Tunisia which occurred from April 23 to April 24. It was during this battle that Sgt. Nelson's actions would result in a posthumously awarded Medal of Honor.

His citation includes the following:

On the morning of 24 April 1943, Sgt. Nelson led his section of heavy mortars to a forward position where he placed his guns and men. Under intense enemy artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, he advanced alone to a chosen observation position from which he directed the laying of a concentrated mortar barrage which successfully halted an initial enemy counterattack. 

Although mortally wounded in the accomplishment of his mission, and with his duty clearly completed, Sgt. Nelson crawled to a still more advanced observation point and continued to direct the fire of his section. 

Dying of hand grenade wounds and only 50 yards from the enemy, Sgt. Nelson encouraged his section to continue their fire and by doing so they took a heavy toll of enemy lives. 

The skill which Sgt. Nelson displayed in this engagement, his courage, and self-sacrificing devotion to duty and heroism resulting in the loss of his life, was a priceless inspiration to our Armed Forces and were in keeping with the highest tradition of the U.S. Army.

Sgt. Nelson died the next day from his wounds.

His grave is at Silverbrook Cemetery and Memorial Park in Wilmington, Delaware. His widow remarried and died in 2000.

Thank you William for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for William.

Alfred Gross was born on the same day as William Nelson. Although he was born in Canada, he grew up in Ohio. From childhood he exhibited a keen interest in radio. At the age of 19 he obtained a patent a "walkie-talkie". During the war he worked on a top secret air-to-ground communication system that was successfully used behind enemy lines. Its existence was not made public until 1976.

He was an early developer of CB radios and other wireless communications.

Alfred Gross died in 2000.

We will never know what similar accomplishments Willam Nelson and the other WW2 fallen could have achieved if they had survived the war.

Last year on this date I profiled Saipan medic Carmelo Parisi. You can read about Carmelo here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project:

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