At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, there are over 170 acres of white Crosses and Stars of David which mark the graves of American soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Europe during World War II. The cross at plot D, row 19, grave 21 bears the name of GMC Junior College class of 1939 graduate LTC William Turner.
LTC Turner, or “Billy” as he was known by friends and family, commanded the First Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He jumped into France with his men on D-Day. On D-Day plus one, his battalion forced a German retreat town of Vierville, but on the way to St. Come du Mont, they encountered heavy enemy resistance. At which point, LTC Turner jumped into a Sherman tank to personally direct the fire.
Thanks to his heroic leadership, the battalion was able to move forward by destroying the German position. Unfortunately, LTC Turner was killed by enemy fire during the battle.
He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life.”
Memorial Day exists for Soldiers like him—patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Where would America be without men and women like Billy — a young man from right here in Milledgeville, Georgia who was killed and buried 4,000 miles from his home. Where would we be without those men and women who served as if America’s future and the freedom of her people depended upon them alone? Without the courage, dedication, and honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom throughout the world, we would be lost. GMC is proud of Billy’s service, and we will never forget his sacrifice. This Memorial Day, we remember LTC Turner and all of our nation’s fallen heroes.