Sunday’s Salute ~ William Darrell Vickrey ~ World War II

William Darrell Vickrey, my 1st cousin, was born on December 24, 1922, in Wheat Springs, Missouri. He was the firstborn of 10 children born to Hazel Clara Hughes (1901-1953) and Kenneth Carlton Vickrey (1894-1958). William went by the name Darrell his whole life. He was raised on the family farm in the rural Missouri Town of Sweet Springs. When Darrel was 10 years old his family bought a new farm in Otterville, Cooper County, Missouri .

At the age of 20 years old, Darrell enlisted in the Army. After boot camp, he became part of the 528th Engineer Light Pontoon Company, and he was sent to England. This regiment was a combat engineer unit organized and trained to transport and maintain its stream-crossing equipage, to construct floating bridges and rafts with this equipage, to guard and maintain completed bridges, to regulate traffic thereon, and to dismantle bridges and rafts. They were responsible for construction of floating bridges and rafts assisted by general engineer troops. Light pontoon companies would be attached to divisions engaged in stream-crossing operations in accordance with the tactical situation.

He made many trips to Germany where he helped to ferry infantry and special forces troops in this M2 assault boat. Within a year he was promoted to the rank of Sargent. He also served in England; France; Belgium; and the European Theater. He participated in the following Campaigns or Battles: Operation Overlord (D-Day Normandy Invasion) Utah Beach, Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal.

After the war he returned to the United States and completed his service in the Army. On December 3, 1945, Darrell was going to catch a train from the Union Station in Chicago to the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. He was running late that morning and arrived at the ticket counter just in time to buy his ticket. He heard the engineer yell for the last boarding call, and he ran quickly through the Station and out to the platform. The train was just slowly pulling away from the platform so Darrel ran as fast as he could, and jumped towards the open train door. He didn’t make it, and he fell under the train and was killed. He was just 22 years old.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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