Tuesday, November 11, 2014


"Nothin' I like better than buryin' Germans in the rain."
Private William G. Kirby

Back in May, we saluted the late Gil Hanley, Second Lieutenant of King Company's second squad.  Now, for Veteran's Day, we salute one of the soldiers under his command: William G. Kirby.

Jo David Meyer sums up the rogue of King Company the best:

"Tough, quick-tempered, argumentative, and a skirt-chaser, Kirby is the show’s “bad boy.” He’s been AWOL more than any other man in the outfit and once broke up a French cafe in a brawl over a woman. Consequently, he gets most of the good lines. Though a wise-cracker and complainer, Kirby is a good man in a fight. Kirby is the squad’s B.A.R . man (Browning Automatic Rifle)."

Born in August of 1911, Kirby was the son of James Kirby who was originally from Iowa.  Since Mrs. Kirby was originally from Chicago, they raised their family in the Windy City.  Along with William, the Kirbys also had two other children - Ruth and George.

Kirby's maternal uncle owned a bowling alley in Chicago which was still in the family decades later and a popular spot for TV characters from other shows, like P.J. Franklin and her brother Andy and their friends.

It was never revealed in the show, but Kirby's middle name was pronounced as "Walter".  (The "G" was silent.)

Before he landed at Omaha Beach, Kirby had been a corporal but he was demoted to private, probably because he went AWOL (and often did.)  On August 7, 1944, he was court-martialed for desertion under fire.  (But he managed to avoid being drummed out of service.)

Somehow, Kirby got hold of two other dogtags with his name embossed on them so that he would give out the false information in case of emergency.

His serial numbers were:
  • 14327230 
  • 1302882 
  • 37428620
While he was in basic training, Kirby called Trenton, New Jersey, home.  

Considering his fondness for wine, women, cigarettes, and hard liquor, it would be hard to believe that Kirby could still be alive.  If he is, he's 103 years old this year.  

But he may have predicted reaching such a milestone.....

New recruit: "I'll be nineteen in August." 
Kirby: "I'll be 100 in August."
(From the episode "The First Day")

Not impossible, but certainly amazing.......

So on this Veteran's Day, we salute William G. Kirby, former private in the King Company Second Squadron.

Thank you for your service... when you weren't going AWOL, that is!

'My Boys'
'The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis'


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