Biography: William Brewster was born on January 22, 1920, in Kimball, West Virginia. He was the son of Floyd George and Sally Lue Brewster and graduated as valedictorian from Big Creek High School, in 1938. In addition to excelling in his school work, William also excelled in the Lone Scout program, achieving the level of Eagle Scout. He then worked as a clerk at the New River and Pocahontas Coal Company Store in Newhall, West Virginia.
Service Time: William entered the service on December 17, 1942, at Huntington, West Virginia. He was assigned to Company A of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit shipped out from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived at Liverpool, England, on January 20. After a few months of additional training and preparations, they boarded a ship and landed at the Omaha beachhead on July 1st. They were equipped with M10s and committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye. William initially served as security for the TD with Earl Estep Commanding, but William soon became the M10’s gunner.
They advanced east to Paris by August 25th and then to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel, fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in November. By this point, Earl was reassigned and William became gun commander. Company A was assigned to take Kesternich, Germany, 6 miles southwest of Schmidt. It was well defended and took five tries to take the town. For that reason, it got was nicknamed “Little Aachen”. The 893rd continued to hold defensive positions in January, 1945, and then supported the 78th Infantry Division’s capture of the Roer River dams in February and later participated in an offensive across the Roer toward the Rhine River.
They finally crossed the Rhine at Remagen on March 7th and supported the attack northward to the Sieg River and subsequent operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April.William was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service and left the service at the rank of Sergeant.
After returning to the U.S., William went back to school, using the GI Bill, at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. During his time there, he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1950 with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked for a short time at U.S. Steel in Birmingham, Alabama, but in 1956, he moved to Johnson City, Tennessee and worked for the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). He remained with the TVA for 34 years and retired in 1984.
On December 31, 1950, he married the former Nancy Etta Barker, who was born in Glade Spring, Virginia. She was the daughter of Grover Lacy Barker and Inez Sage. The new couple had two children, Karen born in 1955 and Charles in 1957. In his spare time, William enjoyed traveling, building ships and train collecting/modeling along with train and wildflower photography. He was asked many times to give presentations of his beautiful photography to local groups.
In addition to his hobbies, William made time for a number of organizations including the Army Reserves, the West County Volunteer Fire Department and the Milligan Optimist Club. He was also an active member of the First Church of the Brethren of Johnson City and taught Sunday school and was church treasurer for many years. After retirement, he and his wife had the opportunity to travel to the Canadian Rockies, Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah and the Big Sky country of Montana as well as other beautiful destinations.
William passed away on October 14, 2013, and was buried in the Heritage Family Cemetery in Boones Creek, Tennessee. I want to thank William’s son, Charles, for providing the information and photos for this tribute as well as other images of the 893rd. The photo above was taken at a reunion of the 893rd.