William Louis Sandoval was born on Sep. 16, 1923, in Lake Lillian, Minn., to Joseph G. and Carmen Morales Sandoval, both from Mexico. The family moved to Silvis, Ill., in 1925.
William had seven brothers and three sisters. His father was a grinder at the Moline Iron Works. His mother died on Sep. 3, 1939, after giving birth to twin boys three days earlier. He graduated from East Moline High School in June 1942.
Sandoval enlisted in the Army on Feb. 16, 1943, in Peoria, Ill., and attended basic training at Scott Field. Afterward, he was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. The Germans nicknamed this unit the “Devils in Baggy Pants,” a name the 504th carried with them proudly for the remainder of the war.
On Sep. 17, 1944, the 504th took part in Operation Market Garden, to capture two strategic bridges near Nijmegen. To capture the bridges, they would have to cross a 400-yard river, completely exposed to German fire, in collapsible wood-and-canvas boats provided by the British. The unit suffered nearly 50 percent casualties in the crossing, but enough men made it across to seize the bridge from both ends simultaneously. Other Allied forces weren’t as successful, and Market Garden failed to open a direct line into Germany.
The 504th was relieved by British troops on Sept. 21 and marched back across the bridge toward Nijmegen. On Oct. 6, 1944, Sandoval’s unit was overrun while engaging the enemy in Zyfflich, Germany, and he was listed as missing in action.
Sandoval was officially listed as killed in action on Oct. 7, 1945. He was 21, and his body was never recovered. A memorial marker was placed at the Rock Island National Cemetery, and he was also memorialized on the Sea Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands.
We honor his service.