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William Orlando Darby

Date of birth: February 8, 1911
Date of death: April 30, 1945
Burial location: Fort Smith, AR
Place of Birth: Arkansas, Fort Smith
Home of record: Fort Smith Arkansas
Status: KIA

William Darby graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Class of 1933. He led the famous Darby's Rangers of World War II which evolved into the U.S. Army Rangers. His exploits were made famous as a major motion picture starring the American actor James Garner in the role of Darby. A Colonel at the time of his death, he was posthumously promoted to brigadier general as of the date of his death.

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

Distinguished Service Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Field Artillery) William Orlando Darby (ASN: 0-19133), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding the 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion, in action against enemy forces for the five days from 21 to 25 March 1943. Leading his command, the 1st Ranger Battalion, over ten miles, almost all on mountain ranges during the night 20 - 21 March 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Darby took with his force with complete surprise at dawn, a strongly fortified enemy position. Always conspicuously at the head of his troops, Lieutenant Colonel Darby personally led the assaults against the enemy in the face of machine gun and artillery fire, establishing the front by his skillful employment of hand grenades and close quarter fire. The success of this attack was largely due to the outstanding heroism of Lieutenant Colonel Darby, who, with complete disregard to his own safety, led the assault. On 22 March, again leading his Ranger Battalion in the face of enemy artillery fire, Lieutenant Colonel Darby bravely directed his battalion in an advance on the Bou Hamra, capturing prisoners and destroying a battery of self-propelled artillery. During the two succeeding days, while the Ranger Battalion was in a defensive position with the *** Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Darby again initiated the dogged resistance of his troops by circulating freely among his men in the face of the enemy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire, to establish positions and to encourage his troops and direct their fire. On the night of 25 March after five days of savage and almost uninterrupted fighting, while employing his Rangers in a successful full rear guard activity, Lieutenant Colonel Darby again displayed extraordinary heroism by remaining at the head of his covering force and directing the movement of his Rangers in the face of machine gun and artillery fire. The selfless courage displayed by Lieutenant Colonel Darby inspired his command to exceedingly greater efforts and proved an immeasurable important factor in the ultimate successes in the sector. Lieutenant Colonel Darby's gallant leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army-North African Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 50 (July 9, 1943)

Action Date: March 21 - 25, 1943

Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion

Distinguished Service Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Field Artillery) William Orlando Darby (ASN: 0-19133), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while commanding the 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion, in action against enemy forces in July 1943, in Sicily. On the morning of ** July 1943, the enemy, using both infantry and armored units, launched a counter attack on ****, Sicily, which had been captured by the Rangers under Colonel Darby's command. Colonel Darby personally led his men in repulsing the attack by the skillful employment of hand grenades, rifles and rocket launchers. Always in the forefront, inspiring and encouraging his men, Colonel Darby, with the use of one 37-mm. gun which he personally manned, managed not only to repulse the attack, but succeeded with this inadequate weapon in destroying one of the tanks while two others were accounted for by well-directed hand grenade fire. On the ** of July 1943, his outstanding leadership and fearlessness was again manifested when he led his Rangers in repelling three counter attacks, knocking out four Mark VI tanks and capturing over 3,000 prisoners. By his splendid leadership and bravery beyond the call of duty, Colonel Darby was in the greatest degree responsible for deflecting the most serious threat faced by our invading forces. His gallant leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, Seventh U.S. Army, General Orders No. 23 (September 6, 1943)

Action Date: July 1943

Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion

Army Distinguished Service Medal

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Brigadier General William Orlando Darby (ASN: 0-19133), United States Army, was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States.

Action Date: World War II

Service: Army

Rank: Brigadier General

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel (Field Artillery) William Orlando Darby (ASN: 0-19133), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Commanding Officer, 1st Ranger Battalion, on the early morning of 12 February 1943, in the vicinity 5 miles west of Sened Station, Tunisia. Lieutenant Colonel Darby's unit was assigned the mission of harassing the enemy and clearing the area of machine gun and cannon positions which were obstructing the advance of our troops. Without regard for his personal safety, the day previous to the raid, he reconnoitered enemy positions and planned the attack which he led the following morning at 0100 hours. The thorough organization and successful attack led by Lieutenant Colonel Darby himself, revealed his initiative, courage, and a devotion to duty which is a credit to the Armed Forces of the United States.

General Orders: Headquarters, II Corps, General Orders No. 14 (March 7, 1943)

Action Date: February 12, 1943

Service: Army

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 1st Ranger Infantry Battalion

Legion of Merit

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Brigadier General William Orlando Darby (ASN: 0-19133), United States Army, was awarded the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States during World War II.

General Orders: United States Military Academy Register of Graduates

Action Date: World War II

Service: Army

Rank: Brigadier General