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Honoring Our Heroes

Private First Class William Lee Struthers: Age 92

Private First Class (PFC) William Lee Struthers served three years in the AL National Guard that was activated for combat service at Korea during the Korean War. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Truck Driver hauling munitions to the fronts. His Unit, the 252nd, National Guard Unit, the First Transportation Unit from Hamilton, AL, received the Presidential Unit Citation near Chuncheon, South Korea, and was cited for thwarting a 12-Division assault going against the 2nd Infantry Division during May 16-22, 1951. This truck unit was attached to the Eighth Army and caused more damage than any other truck company attached to it. His Unit also received the Meritorious Unit Citation which was cited particularly for its performance helping to fight off 12 Chinese Divisions during that spring offensive. The 252nd carried more tonnage than any other truck company attached to the Eighth Army. He also received the Good Conduct Medal.

PFC Struthers was born July 12 ,1931, to his parents, at Montgomery, AL, where he was reared. After graduating from high school there in 1949, he worked for the AL Highway Department at Hamilton, AL, with road compaction preparing roads before paving. He voluntarily joined the AL National Guard at Hamilton, AL, in 1949. His Unit was activated September 2, 1950 with his rank as Recruit. His Unit was sent to Ft. Lawton, a U.S. Army post at Seattle overlooking Puget Sound which was the second largest port of embarkation of soldiers and materials for the Pacific theater. After bivouac training there for 2.5 months, in December, 1950, he sailed for Korea on the USNS Sgt. Sylvester Antolak, a Boulder-Victory-class cargo ship and landed at the port at Pusan, Korea, December 28, 1950 after a 14 day voyage with many soldiers enduring sea sickness. While serving in the combat zones in Korea, he served in 16 areas including Taegu, Pusan and Panmunjom. His unit moved often avoiding being hit by the Chinese attacks. He endured extreme cold wearing insufficient clothing and while sleeping in inadequate sleeping bags. Many soldiers suffered frost bite and frozen feet. He served 16 months in a combat zone until his Unit was rotated out of Korea sailing from the port, Pusan. After having a 30 day furlough to go home to Montgomery, AL, he was discharged at Ft. Jackson, S.C. in May 1952.

After his military service, PFC Struthers worked at a Coca Cola company at Montgomery, AL, delivering Coca Cola products to businesses for three years until August 1955. He then worked for 36.5 years until 1992 with Insurance Service Office at Montgomery, AL, which operated in five states inspecting buildings pending approval of insurance. Next, he worked with the State of AL in the Risk Management Department for four years retiring from all employment in 1996.

PFC Struthers and his wife, Peggy, were married 67 years before she passed away, and they had three children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He has been a member of Eastern Hills Baptist Church at Montgomery, AL, for 59 years. He volunteered and went on 30 missions trips to many states with Carpenters for Christ, a men’s organization that constructs new churches, upgrades existing ones and helps others with building needs.

PFC Struthers’ conclusions about his military serve are, “It means more to me since I have gotten older than it did when it began. I have hardly ever mentioned anything to my family about what happened to me at Korea. I talked to my brother who served in the U.S. Marines at the battles at Bougainville and at Solomon Islands. Sometimes the family did not hear from him for two or three weeks. I was 14 years old during that time. In Korea, I saw many troops’ wounded and dead bodies being carried to a field and loaded for evacuation via plane. We had some close calls over there. One night I was traveling with a convoy of 16 trucks loaded with 155 mm artillery caliber shells. Someone coming from the site of the proposed battle site, came and told the caravan to turn around because the Chinese were waiting up ahead to attack the convoy. If we had continued, we would have been attacked. Sometimes as I lie down at night, I think about what could have happened. I have attended several reunions from our Unit at Hamilton, AL, and in 2018 only 12 of the 100 had been able to attend.” He would like to be remembered as a servant of Christ who protected me and has given me this long life.


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