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Silent Heroes:

Pvt. William Turner

Contributed by: Isabelle Gibbs, AHS student 

Mentored by: Brian Connick, AHS teacher & Board Member

     Brian Connick, Vice President of the Camp Algona committee will be escorting an Algona High School student to Hawaii in the summer of 2021.  Isabelle Gibbs, an AHS junior, and Connick have spent the better part of 2 years researching the story of Algonan William George Turner, who was killed during the early days of World War II. 

          Pvt. Turner, a US Marine, died on December 12, 1941 after being wounded on  December 7th. Turner and a comrade ran and jumped into an American plane on the runway and manned a machine gun attempting to shoot down Japanese planes during the attack on Ewa Mooring Mast Field.  They were successful in damaging at least 2 Japanese attack planes.  Turner was seriously wounded and died 5 days later in a base hospital.

            He is buried in Plot C, Grave 11, Site 110 of the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He was nominated for the Navy Cross and was awarded the Bronze Star. 

            Gibbs and Connick are participating in the second annual Sacrifice for Freedom in the Pacific, Student and Teacher Institute, in conjunction with National History Day.  They are 1 of 16 teams from around the country chosen to take part in the program.  Each of the students will have a specific veteran to honor while they are there.  Isabelle has composed a eulogy for Pvt. Turner that she will deliver a his grave site.

            Isabelle, who has multiple military veterans in her family, said she applied for the program because she wanted to share the stories of service members so they’d never be forgotten.  When she found out she had been selected, Isabelle said, ‘I could not believe what Mr. Connick was saying, I could have sworn I was  dreaming.’  ‘I was over the moon because I knew there were going to be many applicants for the program and the chances of getting in were very slim.’

            William Turner, was the son of Mrs. Jesse Turner of Algona.  He was survived by brothers Robert and Lee and sister Ruth. He graduated from AHS in 1936 and enlisted in the Marine Corps in January of 1941.  Because Turner was Algona’s first man to die in World War II, the American Legion Post of Algona, honored him by adding his name to that of Carl T. Hagg, first Algona man to die in World War I.  Ever since it has been called the Hagg-Turner American Legion Post.

In June of 2021, the 12 teams participating in the program will travel to Honolulu to learn more about their Silent Heroes and the unique role Hawaii played in World War II.  About Isabelle, Connick said, ‘It’s fascinating to think about a high school student, who will be 17 when we go in 2021, honoring a student in essence from her high school that was killed in 1941.’ ‘That’s kind of neat.’

            Brian Connick heard about the Pearl Harbor program through a network of teachers he’s been a part of since he participated in a similar program called Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom.    In 2012, Brian took Jake Eden, an AHS student to visit the grave of Sgt. James McMahon, an Algona man who was killed in Normandy.  

Please select the 'button' to view Isabelle's website.
Camp Algona POW Museum Vice-President taking student to Hawaii

Story by: Jerry Yocum, Board President

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