Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

General William O. Darby Birthday Celebration

February 11, 2017
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

In celebration of the birthday of the Fort Smith native and founder of Darby’s Rangers, researcher Mark Potter will present a program utilizing an analysis of essays written during Cadet Darby’s early years at West Point. The early essays will be compared to General Darby’s later leadership skills during his successful military career. The program is Saturday, February 11, 1:30 pm. Enjoy birthday cake in the soda fountain, 1:00-3:00 pm. The program is offered free with museum admission: $7 adults, $2 children, under age six are free. Veterans and military receive a discount. The museum updated the General William O. Darby exhibition to include his early life in Fort Smith and education at West Point, his years as a soldier and the lasting legacy of the well-known founder of the modern Army Rangers. Videos on General Darby and Major Warren "Bing" Evans, an original Darby's Ranger, are available in the theater in the Darby Room as well as a cell phone audio tour written and narrated by the General's nephews, Darby and Presson Watkins. 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. Army Rangers of today honor the legacy of General William O. Darby. Numerous thing are named for him including Darby Junior High School in Fort Smith, the Army troopship USNS General William O. Darby, the USAT General William O. Darby, Camp Darby in Italy, many Army training fields, the 1958 Warner Brothers film "Darby's Rangers" and numerous civic clubs and organizations carry his name. Cisterna, Italy and Fort Smith are sister cities in memory of General William O. Darby and his Rangers. General Lucien K. Truscott, Fifth Army Commander, said of Darby following his death, "Never have I seen a more gallant, heroic officer." General George S. Patton called Darby, "The bravest man I ever knew."

Admission: Free with museum admission: $7 adults, $2 children, under age 6 are free, Military discount.

Event Location and Contact Information:
Fort Smith Museum of History
320 Rogers Avenue
Fort Smith, Arkansas


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