About the Man

Bill (left) and his brother Ralph ca. 1927

The Hale children (left to right) Bill, Charles, Ralph, Jesse, James, Estella ca. 1924

William “Bill” Huntington Hale was born January 23, 1921 on the South side of Chicago.  His father, Samuel Hale, was a Lorry driver for the Chicago Tribune but died of a long illness when Bill was three.  His mother, Wave Hale, supported the family by running a boarding house and doing piecework for a novelty item manufacturing company.  Bill and his five older siblings, Estella, James, Jesse, Ralph, and Samuel Charles, helped raise and support each other.

Bill attended Austin High School and graduated in 1940.  After graduation he worked as a clerk general at Roth Manufacturing Company in Chicago.

Bill met Georgia Angell on Halloween 1939 at a church where Georgia’s younger sisters, Jo and Pat, were active in social groups and Bill attended.  Georgia recalls:

Paper Moon ca. 1940

Georgia and Bill, 1942

After many weeks of checking each other out we went for cherry cokes at the corner drugstore after church.  Soon we dated big time, such as a 10 block walk to White Castle for 3 hamburgers and shakes.  Sometimes near payday we would go on the streetcar to the Chicago Theatre to see live Vaudeville – then across the street to “Checkis Beanery” .19 cents got you beans and brown bread and they were really good!

By September 1941 I went to Jenning’s Seminary in Aurora for my senior year of high school…Bill came on the Aurora Elgin train every Sunday to see me.

Bill and Georgia were engaged on Christmas Eve 1941 and married September 5, 1942 at Trinity Church.  They honeymooned in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

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Bill in uniform ca. 1943

On October 9, 1942 Bill entered the Army for basic training at Fort Sheridan, Wisconsin.  He did further training in Texas and completed Army Air Force Technical Training School at Traux Field in Madison Wisconsin.  At Traux AAF he was trained as a radio operator.   He and Georgia then moved to Indio California where Bill continued training for about four months at Thermal Air Force Base.  In October 1943, one year after joining the Army, Bill shipped out overseas to England.  Georgia moved back to Chicago to stay with family while Bill was active in service.

Bill's fellow Air Support Platoon squad (men unidentified)

During the war Bill was a radio operator in the Signal Corps, part of the Air Support Team No. 7 of the 4th Tactical Air Command Squad.  His unit was attached to the 101st Airborne Division in August 15, 1944* and was actively engaged in all Division operations and movement including the Air Invasion of Holland June 6, 1944, the defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bugle December 1944-January 1945, the liberation of Kaufering IV in Landsberg (Dachau subcamp) April 28, 1945, and captured Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s final retreat known as the “Eagle’s Nest.”

As a radio operator he operated ground transmitting and receiving equipment using Morse code, tone and light signals.  Received using code and made pencil copy at 18 five letter code groups per minute.   He transmitted messages using code at 20 five letter code groups per minute.  He handled 15 plain addressed messages in radio net of two or more stations per hour.  He also directed fighter planes by voice to individual targets on ground.

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Hale family (top to bottom) Georgia, Michael, Bill, Barb ca. 1952

Bill was discharged from the military on October 16, 1945 from Fort Sheridan, IL.  He returned to Chicago and started work again at Roth Manufacturing.  In November 1946 Georgia and Bill had their first child, Michael.  In 1950 the family moved to Canyon Park California where Bill was employed by the Newly Weds Foods company owned by Georgia’s father Paul Angell.  Their second child, Barbara, was born in September 1950.  The young family moved into a brand new track house neighborhood typical of the suburban communities across the country after the war.  In the summer of 1959 the family moved back to Chicago where Bill worked at the Newly Wed plant in the city.  They lived in the same house in Oak Park until 2000.

Bill and Georgia, 1982

William Hale lived a long and full life and died peacefully in December 2002.  He is survived by his loving wife, his son Michael and his wife Nan Owen, his daughter Barbara and her husband Allan Schmeling and their three daughters Jessica, Stephanie, and Amanda.

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In Loving Memory of William Huntington Hale January 23, 1921 - December 31, 2002, 101st Airborne Division

 

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