William E. Van Kerrebroeck was born April 28, 1914, in Rock Island, Ill., the son of Emil and Florence Van Kerrebroeck, both of whom were born in Belgium and spoke Flemish.
He graduated from Moline High School in 1933 and worked as a bartender in his father’s tavern in Moline and at John Deere Wagon Works. He married in 1937.
Van Kerrebroeck was inducted into the Army on May 18, 1943. After basic training, he was assigned to the 409th Infantry Regiment, 103rd “Cactus” Division. They were assigned to the European Theater of Operations and arrived in the port of Marseille, France, on Oct. 20, 1944. Van Kerrebroeck and the rest of the 409th fought through the Vosges Mountains and later into the Rhineland area of South-Central Germany.
Just one month after their arrival, Van Kerrebroeck was shot twice by a German sniper in the Vosges Forest. He earned a Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster for injuries on both Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, 1944, and spent six months in a hospital. He sent a letter to his parents telling them of the injuries to his throat and back, and that he had undergone an operation.
After recovering, Van Kerrebroeck deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations in the Philippines. He was assigned to the 4171st Quartermaster Depot Company. After Japan surrendered, he did occupation duty in Tokyo, Kure, and Hiroshima. He was honorably discharged on Jan. 17, 1946.
After the war, Van Kerrebroeck owned and operated Bill’s Corner Tap for 16 years. After that, he was employed with the Moline School District 40 in the maintenance department, from which he retired in May 1978.
Van Kerrebroeck died on Sept. 1, 1992.
We honor his service.