Tribute to William Clayton Gilbert
Branch of Service: US Army Air Corps
Specialty: Aircraft Mechanic
William Clayton Gilbert was born May 7, 1919 in rural Nowata County, Oklahoma. He grew up on a farm West of Vera, Oklahoma and graduated from High School there. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, William went to Tulsa to the Spartan School of Aeronautics to seek pilot training. He passed all the written tests but his heartbeat rate was too high to pass the physical.
William Gilbert entered the Army Air Corps on April 1, 1942 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. World War II had begun on December 7, 1941 and all able-bodied young males were called to serve. He went for training at Lincoln Aeronautical Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska from May 1942 to September 1942. Then he was assigned to the U.S. Rubber School in Detroit, Michigan until November 1942. He then left Hamilton Field for foreign service and arrived in Ipswich, Australia on November 10, 1942. William was assigned to the 27th Air Depot Group for service in New Guinea, arriving in Port Moresby on December 11, 1942. This area was under siege by the Japanese and he experienced several bombing attacks there.
William entered the 13th General Hospital at Finchhaven, New Guinea in February 1945 for treatment of infectious eczema, called "jungle rot" by the airmen. Due to this disease, he was sent back to the U.S. on the hospital ship, Monterey. He arrived in San Francisco at Lettermen General Hospital in April 1945. Bill then was sent to a hospital in Swannanoa, North Carolina. After treatment there, he was sent to a rehab center in Miami, Florida for twelve days. In July, 1945 he was assigned to Bowman Field Base at Louisville, Kentucky. Private First Class William C. Gilbert was honorably discharged from the service on October 11, 1945.
William became a partner with his father, Jesse Gilbert, in his farming operation, which consisted of a grade A dairy and many acres of farming. This partnership lasted until 1950 when William and his family moved to Wichita, Kansas. He had secured a job with the Boeing Company in Wichita, building B-47 bombers. He also supervised modification of B-52 bombers at seven different air bases before transferring to Everett, Washington for the 747 program.
William spent thirty-one years with the Boeing Company and lived in many different areas of the United States. Retirement came on July 1, 1981 while living in Everett, Washington. He and his wife Tina, bought the home of his father, which was located in Vera, Oklahoma. They had built the house in 1962 after selling the farm. A new life began for William and Tina. They grew a huge vegetable garden which was the "talk of the town". They enjoyed a Holiday Rambler Travel Club and traversed the United States, visiting every state in the Union. They bought a bass boat, learned to fish, and spent many weeks camping on the banks of the Grand River just outside of Grove, Oklahoma.
Changes come as the years come, and William and Tina now live in Wichita, Kansas near their son Mark, who lives in Colwich, Kansas. Another new life began.
Submitted by William Gilbert (himself)