Ranger Bill Toler

Born: 24 June 1921, Parsons, Labette County, Kansas, USA
Died: 13 June 1983, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, USA
Army Serial Number: 17122510
Ranger Battalion/Company: 5C
Rank: PVT
Enlisted: 26 October 1942, Jefferson Barracks, MO
Discharged: October 1945, Emporia, Kansas
Battles/Campaigns/Significants: Normandy D-Day,
Medals/Awards: Purple Heart

As shared by his son, Terry Toler:

My Dad was a Staff Sergeant with the Combat Engineers from the time he was in the US with Army Service Forces, until training in England for D-Day. After a fatal accident that killed a friend, he volunteered for the 5BN Rangers and became a Private and a BAR man in Co. C for the invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day. He recounted how he was the human “ramp”, up which the platoon ran to cross the barbed wire barricade set up by the Germans. He always swore, the US won the war due to such innovations implemented by the American GI to reach their objectives.

Once, while Dad's unit was set up along a river in France, an advance party from Gen. Patton’s army came looking for a suitable crossing. Dad told them that he could build a Bailey Bridge for them and had the sections up that same day. Dad built the bridge and Patton’s tanks began crossing the river immediately. Dad also told us four kids about the footrope crossing of the Saar River, where every Ranger carried half his weight in gear and ammo.

He was also part of the Irsch-Zerf battle and liked the friendly artillery fire that was provided (that comment led me to be a Field Artillery officer). During this conflict, German artillery fire threw him in the air and he landed on his back, on a tree stump. He was evacuated February 27, 1945 and sent to Paris for recovery from that wound. He was discharged October 1945 in Emporia, Kansas.

Photo and narrative submitted by
Ranger Toler's son
Terry Toler
January 2003


Baldwin __Services for Billy Gene Toler, 62, Baldwin, who died Wednesday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Topeka will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Lamb-Roberts Funeral home in Baldwn with Mackie Hawkins officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin.

Mr. Toler was born June 24, 1921, at Parsons and moved to Baldwin in 1956, where he lived until his death. Family members said he had been ill for several years.

He had served in the Army during World War II and received the purple Heart. He was a plant operator at the Cooperative Farm Chemicals assn., Lawrence when he retired in 1977.

He belonged to the First United Methodist Church and the Lloyd Beaton Post No. 228 of the American Legion, both in Baldwin and the Edward F. Middleton.

His wife, Sarah Ann schnell, died in May 1980. Survivors include three sons, Michael Casa Grande, Ariz,; Terrence, Jefferson City, Mo.; and Daniel, Baldwin; a daughter, Melissa, Altamont Springs, Fla.; and six grandchidren.