William A. Wingo
(July 29, 1921 - June 10, 2010)
William Aaron (Bill) Wingo, Jr went to be with his maker at 5:15 pm, June 10, 2010. He was born July 29, 1921 in Benton, Illinois, the son of William Aaron and Sadie Rado (Biggs) Wingo. He graduated from Benton High School in 1940 and was offered football scholarships to Southern Illinois University, Illinois Wesleyan and New Mexico State.
Since everyone was getting drafted, he hopped a freight train to St. Louis and enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in October, 1940.
Three months before Pearl Harbor, his ship the U.S.S. Wakefield assisted in a secret mission to deliver British soldiers to Singapore and help evacuate the city. They rescued 5,500 women and children and brought them through the Indian Ocean to New York City.
While transporting over 4,000 soldiers and contractors across the North Atlantic in September, 1942, the Wakefield caught fire and went down. Everyone had to jump ship and were strung out for over 20 miles. Bill was rescued by the Brooklyn Cruiser.
While waiting on his next ship, he was given light duty in Amagansett, Long Island, New York, to help patrol the beach and spot planes. During his duty assignment a German submarine surfaced and dropped off spies which were soon apprehended.
In Amagansett he met his “war bride” of 67 years, Agnes Grace (Dixie) Payne. They married in East Hampton, Long Island, New York on June 4, 1943.
Bill was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet aboard the U.S.S. Aquarius and assisted in nine invasion landings in the Pacific Ocean (Marshall Islands, Guam, Russell Islands, Baatan, Peleliu, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa).
He served almost 5 years during WW II, earning the rank of Boatswain Mate First Class. He crossed the equator 24 times and was on every continent except Antarctica.
After the war, the Wingo’s moved to Illinois where he graduated from the Industrial Training Institute, Purdue University, in Chicago, Illinois.
Bill was a commercial fisherman with his father-in-law on the Great Banks off of New York, an oil field worker, and held several positions at Caterpillar in Decatur, Illinois. He was retired from Caterpillar for 32 years.
Bill is survived by his wife, Agnes Grace (Dixie) of Westervelt, Illinois and three daughters, Patty (Gary) Townsend of Shelbyville, Illinois, Sheila Garvin of Westervelt, Illinois, and Leslie (Chuck) Lewis of Shelbyville, Illinois, one sister, Luetta Maxine Wingo of Benton, Illinois, 11 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters, (Norma Shockley, Numa Lampley, and Evelyn Gamble), one brother (Vernon Wingo), one daughter (Susan Wingo) and two great grandchildren (Jacob and Grace Garvin).
He was a lifetime member of the VFW and the American Legion. He served 20 years as a volunteer fireman for the Westervelt Fire Department. During his life he attended the First Church of the Nazarene in Benton, Illinois and Shelbyville, Illinois, the Grace United Methodist Church in Westervelt, and the Westervelt Christian Church.
He loved his family, football, fishing, farkle, friends, and having fun! He especially loved his grandchildren, gardening, bowling, hunting, playing golf, raising chickens, playing pinochle and spending time at “The Cabin” with family and friends. He is a classic example of what Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation”.
Funeral service will be held 3:00 p.m. Sunday, June 13, 2010 at Howe and Yockey Funeral Home, Shelbyville, Illinois with Rev. Lynette DeAtley officiating. Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Saturday and one hour before the service on Sunday. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery, Shelbyville with military rites by the Shelby County Honor Guard.
Memorials may be made to Parkinson Research or the Westervelt Christian Church.
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