William F. Gardner
Captain, United States Army
August 15, 2004
Bill Wallis of Walls, Mississippi, sent a letter his grandmother, Grace Gardner, received that told how her son - Wallis's father - had been killed when an artillery shell hit his tank during the Battle for Bastogne. Wallis was 16 months old at the time.
Captain William Gardner's body was later exhumed from a cemetery in France and reburied at Arlington National Cemetery.
"My dear Mrs. Gardner:
"By this time you will have been notified officially by the War Department of the death of your son, Captain William F. Gardner, 01012516, who died as a result of wounds received in action in Belgium on December 31, 1944.
"I write to express the deepest sympathy of myself and all officers and men of the Division of your loss. You have lost a beloved son and we have lost a loyal, faithful and gallant comrade. Your son fought gallantly as a member of the 41st Tank Battalion in a most critical operation of the war. The manner in which he fought aroused a lasting pride in his fellow officers, his men and in myself.
". . . . Only a people and a nation in which there is something fine, something noble and something great can produce such men as your son. To preserve those things, your son gave the most precious possession of man, his life. We who remain shall continue to battle in order to assure the preservation of those institutions and manner of life which set apart the American people as a great shining light in this world, as the symbol of hope to all weaker and less fortunate people.
"My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you in your deep sorrow. I know how difficult it is to assuage your grief at a loss so overwhelming. But I feel that you, as do I, may take a lofty, personal pride in the supreme sacrifice paid by such a patriotic and gallant soldier in the cause of freedom and the future welfare of humanity.
"Yours very sincerely,
"Charles S. Kilburn
GARDNER, WILLIAM F
Posted: 15 August 2004