Polk County


William Proudfit



They Fought in the Bloodiest Battles of World War II

By Nick Lamberto
Many of them came from Iowa communities; some had never traveled beyond the next farm or a neighboring city or town before they joine the Army.

But before the end of World War II, these same men – members of the U.S. Army Rangers – had participated in seven invasions, leaving a trail of bravery and blood from the sands of North Africa and the scraggy cliffs of Normandy to the jungle trails of Luzon in the Phillippines.

Rugged Training.
. . . . Some received early training in the swamps of Louisiana before America entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.


William Proudfit, of Des Moines, was a member of Sixth Ranger Battalion that fought in New Guinea and the Philippines and raided a prison camp at Cabanatuan north of Manila to rescue survivors of the infamous death march.

In a commemorative book about the Rangers, James J. Altieri, a Ranger himself, said:

“What best exemplified the spirit and loyalty of Rangers was the exceedingly large number of hospital AWOLs (absent without leave) whenever the battalions went into battle.  These were called ‘AWOLs in reverse’ because instead of going ‘over the hill’ to evade battle, they would leave comparative safety to join buddies on the firing lines.” 

Source:  The DesMoines Register, Sunday, July 27, 1975 p. 21