Hero’s Medals & Legacy Found in the Trash!


This shadow box preserving the story, photo, and medals of Sgt. William Browning, of Costa Mesa CA, was found unceremoniously discarded in the trash. It was called to the attention of Sheldon Hartsfield, who retrieved it and presented it the museum. We honor the memory and legacy of William Howard Browning here.

William Howard Browning was born 23-SEP 1919 in Louisville, Kentucky.  He registered for the draft on 16 OCT 1940.  His mother was Nettie Louise Browning.  His father was John W Browning.  He had two sisters: Dorothy and Helen and one brother: Thomas.  William attended Louisville High School and went to Washington State College.  According to his enlistment records, was unemployed.

He enlisted on 7-DEC 1940 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He was stationed in Hawaii from February 1941 to May 1943 as a medic serving at Tripler Army Medical Center.  Editor’s Note: Tripler, also known as TAMC, has a long history of healing heroes since before the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

He was stationed in the United States from June 1943 to September 1944 in the Army Air Corps.   From October 1944 through January 1945, he was stationed in the United States in the Infantry in Germany from February 1945 through August of 1945.  He served with the 94th Training Division and the 8th Armored Division.   William was wounded 13-MAR 1945.  He attained the rank of Sergeant E-5.

He was awarded the following commendations:

  • Bronze Star
  • Purple Heart
  • Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal
  • European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Occupation of Germany Medal w/Clasp
  • National Defense Ribbon
  • American Campaign Medal
  • American Defense w/Bronze Star Ribbon
  • Combat Infantry Badge
  • Sharpshooter

He was discharged on 8-AUG 1945.  William married Elsie S. Scholl (1922-1995) on 10-SEP 1946 in Orange County, California.  William was a resident of California since 1946 and worked for Southern California Gas Company from May 1946 through August 1984 in a supervisory capacity and as aa computer programmer.  It is believed that William Browning has no remaining family.  There is no record of children or other heirs.

A piece of aluminum in the shadowbox is believed to be part of a Japanese aircraft shot down at Pearl Harbor on 7-DEC 1941.

William H. Browning was a Pearl Harbor Survivor and an American Hero. We honor his memory and legacy here at the St. Charles County Veterans Museum.

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.