• May 21, 2024
  • 4:19 PM

A D-Day Hero

Please read below for the biography written by Mr. Bob Reed, a WW2 Veteran Liaison to the French Government’s Legion of Honor for Mr. William Knapp.

Mr. William Knapp

William Knapp was born June 22, 1922 in the small town of Howell, Michigan. He and his sister spent many a winter enjoying his favorite pastime of ice skating on Michigan’s frozen lakes and rivers.

Bill entered the service on October 27, 1942 as a US Army paratrooper.  After infantry training, he attended jump school at Ft. Benning, GA. Being assigned to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment he shipped out to Northern Ireland.  A couple of months prior to the Normandy invasion, Bill was promoted to sergeant in the 82 Airborne. At approximately 1:30 AM on June 6th, 1944, he parachuted out of a C-47 aircraft over Normandy landing a short distance from the village of Ste. Mere Eglise. Under constant enemy fire, he and his band of brothers helped secure this strategic town.

His next assignment was a daytime jump into Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden. It was here where he received a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant.

Bill and his unit were next moved to a town just outside of the town of Bastogne in the Ardennes forest.  On December 17, 1944, a surprise attack by the Germans, which came to be known as the “Battle of the Bulge”, put the 82nd and 101st Airborne to the test as they held back the Germans. It was here where he lost his friend when a German shell hit their tent; a tent that Bill had also occupied a few minutes earlier.

After the war, Bill had the distinction of being part of the honor guard for the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. E Eisenhower. Also, on behalf of his Regiment, he was elected to receive the Croix de Guerre from General de Gaulle, an event that was filmed and shown in U.S. theaters nationwide.

In addition to the French Legion of Honor award, Bill has received a Parachute Badge with two jump stars, Combat Infantry Badge, two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, Officer’s Battlefield Commission, WWII Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Normandy Campaign, Holland Campaign, Belgium Campaign, French Fourragere, Dutch Fourragere and Belgium Fourragere.

After the war Bill returned to his love of skating turning it into a 20-year career as a professional and teacher. He was been blessed with five children. Bill had been married to his wife Sandy for 40 year at the time of her passing in 2011. Bill was a member of the American Legion, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a Mason and a Shriner and lived in Las Vegas, NV until his passing on November 8th, 2018.