Sergeant Willard Blake (WWII) died Friday, August 24, 2018 at Heritage Living Center at the age of 98. Mr. Blake was born to Winfield and Rena Blake on May 19, 1920 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is preceded in death by his parents, his wives Grace and Barbara, his brothers Waymon and John Blake and his sister Christine Blake. He is survived by many nieces and nephews, including a special nephew James Blake in Conway, Arkansas.
Mr. Blake served honorably in the United States Army during World War II. He reported for active duty out of Ft. Pike (now Camp Robinson) on 14 November 1941 to the 2nd. Armored Division (AD) of the U.S. Army (nicknamed "Hell on Wheels"). Mr. Blake of the 2nd Armored Division saw combat for the first time when Allied Forces landed at Casablanca, in North Africa, on November 8, 1942. and continued on with the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943.Then Mr. Blake and the Hell on Wheels Division saw action at Butera, Campobello, and through to Palermo. During the fight for Sicily, the 2nd AD fought against the German's elite Hermann Goring Panzer Division. In November of 1943, the 2nd Armored Division was moved to England to train for the invasion of Europe, Operation Overlord. Mr. Blake with the 2AD was landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-day plus 3, June 9, 1944. Mr. Blake was assigned as driver of a half-track on the AD march through France. They were assigned to lead the artillery guns. On 15 July 1944 Mr. Blake's half-track drew enemy fire and was hit by an artillery shell, blowing a hole in the ground the size of a big living room. Mr. Blake was hit by shrapnel, his half-track destroyed. As was usual in World War II, he went to the first aid station, they patched him up and sent him back to action. The Army awarded Mr. Blake the Purple Heart as a result of his injuries. Mr. Blake fought across France, Belgium, and helped to contain the German's Ardennes offensive, the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Blake received the Arkansas Veteran's Military Hall of Fame medal in 2013.
Visitation will be held at Roller-McNutt Funeral Home in Conway on Monday, August 27th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. Graveside services, with military honors will be held at Crestlawn Memorial Park at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 28th.