My wife’s grandfather was a true American hero. His name was Bill Arter. Bill was about 4 things… God, Family, Country, Music. This was a man whose life was one of service. As a teenager, he joined the Army and stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in World War II. Bill served as a medic… so understand that he saw the worst of the war. If you have seen the movie, Saving Private Ryan, you remember the horrific scenes of men just getting shredded by the Germans. Well, as a medic, Bill’s job was not to run and hide. It was to go to the wounded. It had to have been horrible.
In order to be able to function, Bill had to have electro-shock treatments to remove these horrible memories. Well, without the ability to scale memory (especially back then), Bill came home from the war and literally had no memory. He met his father for the first time off the bus! Could you imagine??? What a sacrifice for our freedom. He did begin to regain some memories as the years passed.
Now, one thing that also happened during the war, was something that would forever place Bill in the hearts of millions. Here is an excerpt from an interview done with Bill on CNN explaining:
FEMALE (SINGING): And the company jumps when he plays “Reveille.” He’s the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.
It was part of the soundtrack of a generation. Troops landed on the beaches of Normandy with the music of a certain bugle boy ringing in their ears.
Oklahoman Bill Arter was on those beaches, too. The original “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”
BILL ARTER, “BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY”: As I played songs and played all my calls, I would go over to Company C, which was an all black outfit, and we had our jam sessions. And that’s when they nicknamed me the “Bugle Boy from Company B,” because I fit that — I fit that like a glove, you know.
THOMPSON: Bill was discovered by the Andrews Sisters while he was in basic training. He took his music with him when he was deployed with a third wave of troops on D-Day. As a World War II medic, he cared for wounded soldiers but says he spread even more healing through his music.
ARTER: It’s something you can’t tell people about, because they wouldn’t understand. But it seemed like whatever I played, I played to entertain them, just to keep their mind off what they were going to go through next. We didn’t know what was up there in front of us.
THOMPSON: That was more than 60 years ago. Since then, Bill’s kept up with his trumpet, even recording a special collection for his wife for their 40th anniversary.
Edging up on 50 years now together, Bill is relearning to play the trumpet. A stroke stole the dexterity of his right hand. Now he’s learning to play again with his left hand.
ARTER: The lord knows, but I think I’ve blessed a lot of people.
THOMPSON: His legacy moves on through dozens of children, grand children, and great grandchildren. One grandson is even a veteran of the war in Iraq.
Still, Bill Arter will probably be best remembered as…
THE ANDREWS SISTERS, SINGERS (SINGING): The boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
Wow, what a man. He and his beautiful bride, Lois, have been married for over 53 years. He served wholeheartedly his Lord, Family, and his country.
When he went onto Heaven, he did so while being surrounded by his family singing “When the Saints go marching in”. His son, James, played Taps as the family did a flag presentation of their own in Bill’s honor. No words can describe how amazing this was. I am not the greatest writer and believe me there are millions of amazing stories of Bill and his ways. But I will leave that up to his kids to blog about… wink,wink, hint, hint Nicole!!!
What a legacy, what a life, what an example, what a HERO. Bill, you will be missed. Say hello to my dad up there :-).