George Harold Duckworth, Colonel U.S. Army (retired), passed away at age 98 on Aug. 16, 2013, in Farmington, NM.
George was born Dec. 3, 1914, in rural Shelburn, Ind. As a teen he made money fur-trapping and hunting, known as a crack shot. Six feet tall, George played high school football, and was president of his class of 1932. In the "Great Depression," he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps cutting roads and firebreaks in California forests. Returning home, he worked in construction and as a bricklayer.
Early in 1941, George applied for pilot training, but was inducted by the Army in April; he rose quickly to Staff Sergeant and on to Officers School. Winter 1942-'43, 2nd Lt. Duckworth trained on snowshoes and skis for a proposed attack on German-held Norway, later cancelled. Shipped out with 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Lt. Duckworth led a platoon in D-day 1944 invasion of France, soon promoted to Captain as company commander. After six months of virtually daily fighting in hedgerows, fortified Brest seaport base for German submarines, and Ardennes forests, 2nd Division was hit in Dec. 1944 Battle of the Bulge. Capt. Duckworth's detached company held a strategic road at Krinkelt against two days and nights of heavy attacks, diverting a number of large enemy units in beginnings of German failure. Subsequently advancing across Germany, Capt. Duckworth was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars for valor during more than 300 days in front line combat.
After the war, Capt. Duckworth stayed in the service. In 1946, he married former Women's Army Corps 1st Lt. Fern McGee from Farmington, NM. They had two sons during Army postings ranging from Ft. Lewis, WA, to Panama Canal Zone jungle training 1948-1951.
Major Duckworth graduated 1952 from Command and General Staff College, and was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1954. He was among the 1955 first official group of U.S. Army Advisors sent to South Vietnam.
1956-1959 in Washington, D.C., Lt. Col. Duckworth commanded 2nd Battalion of 3rd Inf. Regt. "Old Guard," responsible for military security of the White House, and honor guards for Pres. Eisenhower and visiting Shah of Iran, King Saud, King Hussein, and Queen Elizabeth.
Duckworth's WWII winter combat experiences led to 1959-1962 duties at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, supervising Arctic training.
1962-1970, Col. Duckworth was assigned to new Combat Developments Command at Ft. Belvoir, Va., planning future Army equipment and tactics that might be needed worldwide, looking ahead into the 21st Century. He was selected for the Infantry Hall of Fame in 1969, and awarded the Army Legion of Merit medal.
Col. Duckworth retired from the Army in 1970, moving to wife Fern's hometown of Farmington, NM, because he liked fishing and hunting in the region. George worked several years in real estate sales and twelve years as Office Manager for auto dealers. He remained active through his late 80s, with the San Juan Wildlife Federation and Retired Officers Association.
George's wife Fern passed away in 2012. He is survived by his son, George Jr. ("Hal") in Arizona, son David in Farmington, NM, and out of state, four granddaughters and three great-grandsons.
Funeral services for George will be 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22 at Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home Chapel, 103 East Ute St. in Farmington, with Bishop Carroll Carter conducting.
Interment will follow in Memory Gardens Cemetery, 6907 E. Main St. with full military honors performed by VFW Post #2182 Farmington.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to VFW Post No. 2182, 5513 U.S. Highway 64 in Farmington, NM 87401.
George's care is entrusted to Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home, 103 E. Ute St. in Farmington, 505-325-8688. Those who wish to express their condolences may do so at www.serenityandcompany.com.
Published in Farmington Daily Times from Aug. 20 to Aug. 30, 2013
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