Title: Air Force Staff Sergeant, World War II, Korea
Birthdate: September 9, 1918
Death Date: January 25, 1980
Plot Location: Section 130, Lot D 3

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Bill was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, between Altoona and Harrisburg, where his parents, William and Helen, grew up. He was their only child, and within a few months of his birth they moved to the 3900 block of Pine Street in Philadelphia. His father got a good job as a steamfitter at a sugar refinery. 

When the Great Depression began, the family was living with Helen’s mother at 3921 Pine Street. Today the residences there are campus apartments at the University of Pennsylvania. William remained employed through those lean years as a plumber at the U.P. Hospital until he found better pay as a pipefitter at the Gulf Oil Refinery. Bill, however, was unemployed, according to both the 1940 census and his 1940 draft card. 

The drums of war were beating louder but he was unsure of his direction in life. Then Uncle Sam came calling in August of 1942, and Bill served his country for the next 20 years. He joined the Army Air Corps and became a staff sergeant by the time he reenlisted in 1945. The Air Corps was officially abolished when the Department of the Air Force was created in 1947.

Bill’s complete list of assignments and stations isn’t known, but he never went overseas during the war. He was stationed at Mather Field near Sacramento, California in 1945 and was there when his war compensation paperwork was filed in 1950. It’s possible he never served anywhere else. 

Mather was the home of the Army Air Forces Navigator School. After the war it became Mather Air Force Base, with the only aerial navigation school in the Air Force. Officially it was the home of the 3535th Navigator Training Wing of the Air Training Command.

In 1948 Bill married Beverly Rose Edwards in Reno, Nevada. Their daughter, Helen Willamae, was born in September of 1949. She was baptized at the base chapel by referral from Bill’s home church, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 40th and Powellton Ave. in Philadelphia.

Information is scant on the rest of Bill’s life, other than retiring from the Air Force in 1963. They apparently moved back to Pennsylvania after that. After Bill died in 1980, Beverly and Helen moved to Edensburg, Pennsylvania, 25 miles west of Altoona, where she died in 2000 and Helen died in 2009. Bill’s grave is beside his parents with a bronze military marker.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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