William Orlando was born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas back in 1911. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 1933.
After graduation, he was assigned as an assistant executive and supply officer at Ft. Bliss, Texas. The following year he was transferred to Cloudcroft, New Mexico in command of the 1st Cavalry Division and then onto St. Sill, Oklahoma rising through the ranks for captain serving with the 80th Division at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.
During WWII, he saw rapid promotion to the grade of lieutenant colonel where he was sent to Northern Ireland watching and learning from the British Commandos. When the U.S. Army decided to establish its Ranger unit he was picked to direct their organization and training. Training with their British counterparts in Scotland in 1943 the 1st. Ranger Battalion made its first assault at Arzew. For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Of course, I’m writing about William Orlando Darby famous for the film “Darby’s Rangers”. In 1945 during the attack near Trento an artillery shell burst I the middle of the assembled officers and NCO’s killing him and a sergeant. Just two days later all German forces in Italy surrendered. He was promoted posthumously to brigadier general. He is buried in the Fort Smith National Cemetery about an hour’s drive from where I live