FORT SMITH (KFSM)- On Monday (Nov. 10), Army Rangers laid a wreath at the grave of Brigadier General William O. Darby in the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
“He`s the original commander of the U.S. Army Rangers,” Joe Armstrong, retired U.S. Army Platoon Sgt. said.
“If it wasn`t for him, we wouldn`t have the modern ranger battalions that we have today, and he is an icon and legend in history of the rangers in special operations,” Retired Master Sgt. Max Mullen said.
General Darby was born in 1911 in Fort Smith. He died in combat in Italy in 1945 near the end of WWII.
You’ll find history of General Darby all over town. It all started at his childhood home located off 8th and C Streets. In addition to the Darby House and the National Cemetery, the Fort Smith Museum of History and Darby Junior High also have displays to preserve his memory.
“I`m student council president, and so the president and vice president gets to help and put the wreath down,” Sofia Delpoza said.
“[General Darby] attended Darby Junior High School, back before it was called Darby of course, and graduated from Fort Smith High, which is now Northside,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong is the vice president of the Darby Legacy Project. He’s raising money to build a monument of the general in Fort Smith’s Cisterna Park, named after Cisterna, Italy.
“Cisterna`s important in the ranger community because that`s where general Darby and three battalions took their heaviest toll of casualties.” Armstrong said.
He said so far they’ve raised about $80,000 of the $200,000 needed for the project.
On Veteran’s Day Tuesday (Nov. 10), Mullen will talk to students at Darby about leadership. He flew into Fort Smith for the event from Atlanta. School officials said the assembly will also pay tribute to General Darby.