January 22, 1925 – December 16, 2015|
Billy (Bill) Charles Alexander, age 90, went to be with Jesus on Dec. 16, 2015. A funeral service celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. at Grace Gardens Funeral Home, 8220 Woodway Drive, Waco, Texas. Interment will follow at Waco Memorial Park. Visitation with family will be Friday, Dec. 18, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Grace Gardens.
Bill was born in Grand Saline, Texas to Charlie Monroe and Laura Mae Alexander. He attended school in Grand Saline, Texas and was an active boy scout in Troop 379. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Bill enlisted in the United States Navy and attended boot camp at San Diego, Calif. He enrolled in Aviation Radio School and Aviation Gunnery School and upon completion was assigned to Bombing Squadron VB-138 at Whidbey Island, Wash. His squadron was transferred to Pearl Harbor and eventually deployed for combat to the South Pacific in 1943. The squadron flew to Espirito Santo Island, the Fiji Islands, Wallis Island, New Caledonia and Guadalcanal after these territories were secured from the Japanese. The squadron was then sent to the Solomon Islands. His squadron flew 56 bombing missions during the following six months.
His next assignment was to Squadron VPB-124 and was sent to Hutchinson, Kan., to train in four engine bombers called "Liberators." Bill was sent back to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and assigned to VPB-119 in the Philippines. He flew 54 combat missions to the Chinese coast and to French-Indo China. When World War II was over, his crew landed the first American aircraft on Japanese soil.
Bill was honorably discharged from the United States Navy on Jan. 21, 1946. He had earned the Combat Air Crew Wings with 3 stars, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Air Medal with 3 stars, Philippine Liberation Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bill then began working for the Texas and Pacific Railway in October of 1946 as a telegrapher. He later became a communications maintainer for the Union Pacific Railroad in Big Spring, Texas and retired from the railroad after 42 years of service.
Because flying was his first love, he started pilot training and received his private, commercial and instructor pilot licenses. He also had a love for Amateur Radio and received his general, advanced and extra class licenses with a call sign W5TOC.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Charlie Monroe and Laura Mae Alexander, his sisters, Ruby Teal, Georgia Pegg, and Maudie Alexander and two brothers, Clifton and Clyde Alexander.
Bill is survived by his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Mary Lou Alexander, whom he married on Aug. 29, 1947. He is also survived by his daughter, Teresa and husband, Ed Contreras of Waco, Texas, and his beloved granddaughters Lisa and Laura Contreras of Austin, Texas, nieces Becky Hudgins of Colorado City, Texas, Judy Rankin of Midlothian, Texas, Deb Gibson and husband, Don, of Granbury, Texas, and nephew Jim Brown and wife, Liz, of Bulverde, Texas.
Pallbearers will be Jim Brown, Sean Clarke, John Contreras, Ronald Cunningham, Don Gibson and Rowan Meyer.
Published in Big Spring Herald on Dec. 18, 2015