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Memorial...
Colonel Wm. O. Darby, Ranger


Awarded:
Brigadier
General
(Postumously)

Distinguished
Service
Cross

Silver Star
Purple Heart

British
Distinguished
Service
Order

Combat Infantry
Badge
Yet;
The Greatest Badge of Honor he wore...
Was the Pride in the Ranger Battalions
 he formed...
And in particular
his men...


(1911- 1945)
William
Orlando
Darby
Better than honor and Glory...

"Glory and Honor and Fame; the pomp that a soldier prizes;  
The league-long waving line as the marching falls and rises;
Rumbling of Caissons and guns;
 the clatter of horses feet,
 And a million awestruck faces far down the waiting street.
But better than martial woe,
and the pageant of civic sorrow;
Better than praise of today,  
or the statue we build tomorrow;
Better than honor and glory,
and history's iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done
and the love of his fellowmen."
(Richard Watson Gildner, during the Civil War)
 William Orlando Darby was born 9 February 1911. He grew up at Ft. Smith Arkansas.
Darby attended West Point and graduated in 1933 as a cadet company commander, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery. He ranked 177 out of 346, he was assigned to Ft. Bliss in the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery of the 1st Cavalry Division. The 82nd was the only horse mounted artillery unit remaining in the Army.
On 1 October 1940 he was promoted to Captain after serving with varied artillery units and in many assignments.
Darby received early Amphibious Training Assignment which would help him in later years; in early 1941 he participated in amphibious training in Puerto Rico, and later in North Carolina.
Orders were cut for Darby to ship to Pearl Harbor after November of 1941 but before he shipped over the Japanese attacked the islands.
His orders were changed and he was assigned as aide to Maj. General Russell P. Hartle.
In January of 1942 Hartle, Darby and staff shipped out with the 34th Infantry Division bound for Northern Ireland. Darby requested a combat assignment but was turned down.
British Commandos were recognized as an essential first-strike unit and since Lord Louis Mountbatten was chief of Combined Allied Operations he called upon Colonel Lucian K. Truscott Jr., to form such a unit and in turn Darby was given the Choice assignment.
The unit would be called: Rangers; in the spirit of Rogers Rangers whose operations were successful during the Revolutionary War.
Darby's organization and leadership catapulted the Rangers toward the front where they distinguished themselves in combat from North Africa to Europe.
Darby was killed in Action by an artillery round on 30 April 1945.
At 34 Darby died just a few days before VE Day.
The timing of Darby's death was tragically ironic.

The day before Darby was killed, Mussolini had been slain by Italian partisans in Milan and Generaloberst Heinrich Gottfried von Vietinghoff had agreed to surrender unconditionally all German forces in Italy effective at noon on 2 May.

With further irony, on the day of Darby's death, his name appeared on a list of nominees for promotion to brigadier general being submitted to President Truman. On 2 May, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson recommended to the President that, in view of Darby's outstanding combat record, his name remain on the list and that he be promoted posthumously. Truman agreed and on 15 May 1945, slightly more than three months after his thirty-fourth birthday, Darby was promoted to brigadier general.""

He was the only Army officer to be posthumously promoted to star rank during the war.


Source: We Led the Way, Wm O. Darby/Wm H. Baumer, and US Army Personnel

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