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General William O. Darby Birthday Display

Date: Thursday, February 8, 2018
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Location: Fort Smith Museum of History 320 Rogers Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72

In honor of the birthday of General William O. Darby on February 8, new artifacts will be exhibited:  a watch worn by Darby and a photograph of Bill Darby as a young teenager.  The panoramic photograph was taken on DeMolay Day in downtown Fort Smith on June 1, 1925.  Young Bill Darby is seated holding a clarinet in Cisterna Park on Garrison Avenue very near the spot where his statue is located today.  His father, Percy Darby is also featured in the photograph. 

View this recently acquired artifact along with the watch from the Fort Smith Museum of History Collection on February 8.  

William Orlando Darby was born in Fort Smith on February 8, 1911 to Percy and Nell Darby.  A natural born leader, from a young age Darby desired to be a soldier.  Following graduation from Fort Smith High School in 1929, he received an appointment to the United States Military academy at West Point, New York.  After graduation from West Point in 1933, Darby was assigned to the First Battalion, Eighty-second Field Artillery of the First Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas.  Following Pearl Harbor, Darby was assigned as aid-de-camp to Major General Russell P. Hartle and selected to train an elite combat unit known as Darby's Rangers.  The First United States Army Ranger Battalion was activated on July 9, 1942.  Darby’s Rangers distinguished themselves in combat in North Africa and Europe. 

Colonel William O. Darby was killed in action on April 30, 1945 at Torbole, Italy and posthumously promoted to Brigadier General on May 15, 1945.  He was buried in a military cemetery outside of Cisterna, Italy and reinterred at the Fort Smith National Cemetery in 1949.  During his career Darby received three Purple Hearts, two Distinguished Service Crosses, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Russian Order of Kutuzov and the French Croix de Guerre.  The medals, photographs, uniforms and artifacts belonging to the famous hero are on permanent exhibit in the museum's William O. Darby Memorial Room.