William Etchemendy (1920 - 2011)

Obituary
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William W. Etchemendy

August 23, 1920

June 17, 2011

Bill was born August 26, 1920 to John and Jeanne Etchemendy in Gardnerville, Nevada. He attended Douglas County High School and enrolled in UNR in 1940. He was a member of ATO Fraternity and majored in Spanish. He was active in ROTC for 4 years. As a sophomore he won the Governor's medal. He graduated from UNR in 1943. Bill had a lifetime career in the military. He attended Officer Candidate School and received commission as Second Lieutenant Infantry at Fort Benning, GA in 1943. He was assigned to the 83rd Inf. Div in the European Theater in 1944 as a rifle platoon leader. He fought in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns. He was wounded twice in the battle, during the drive of division through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest and was one of the first units to reach the lower Rhine River attempting to cross the bridge to Dusseldorf before the bridge was blown. During the Korean War he was assigned as a rifle company commander of "L" Co. 31st Inf., 7th Inf. Division. He made assault landing in Inchon, South Korea and fought with his unit in Seoul, Suwon area. Later, they made a second landing in Iwon, North Korea with fighting towards the Yalu River. With the Chinese intervention, elements of the 31st Inf. and the 1st Marine Div. were attacked by several Chinese divisions at Chosin Reservoir. During the subsequent battle, he was wounded 3 times, but managed to reach Hagaru safely and then was flown to a hospital in Japan. During the Vietnam War he was sent to Thailand as an advisor to the Thai 2nd army to assist in the training of personnel for subsequent shipment to Vietnam and counterinsurgency action against anti-Thai forces. During his career he was assigned to HQ dept of the Army as a staff officer in the Pentagon, to HQ European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and HQ and Service Command, Far East Command in Tokyo, Japan and the United States Forces Austria during the Russian occupation of Vienna. He was also in the US Forces in Alaska and other units throughout the United States. At various times during his military service he commanded units in the 2nd Inf. Div., 4th Inf. Div., 7th Inf. Div. and the 83rd Inf. Division. He received the following decorations during his 32 years of military service: Legion of Merit with 1 oak leaf cluster, Bronze star with 1 oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart with 4 oak leaf clusters, Combat Infantryman Badge, (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), American Campaign Medal (6 overseas bars) and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. When he retired, he was ranked Colonel in the US Army.

He is survived by his loving wife; Teje and their daughter; Laraine Bennett,(Art), his sister; Marie Uhalde and a sister-in-law; Ruby Etchemendy. He is also survived by his 4 grandchildren; Lianna, Raymond,(Laura), Sam and Lucy, as well as many nieces and nephews. A Rosary will be held at Ross, Burke and Knobel Mortuary at 2155 Kietzke Lane in Reno on Thursday, July 7th, at 5:00pm. A memorial mass will be held at St. Therese Church of the Little Flower on Friday July 8th at 10:00am, with a reception to follow. We will miss him so, but what a life he lived!

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on July 3, 2011
bullet Bronze Star bullet Purple Heart bullet Vietnam War
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