Cpl. Bill Hanford had one of the U.S. Army's most dangerous jobs in World War II: artillery forward observer (FO). Tasked with calling in heavy fire on the enemy, FOs accompanied infantrymen into combat, crawled into no-man's-land, and ascended observation posts like hills and ridges to find their targets. But beyond the usual perils of ground combat, FOs were specially targeted by the enemy because of their crucial role in directing artillery fire. Hanford spent much of his time fighting in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France and then in Germany in late 1944 and early 1945.
William B. Hanford served as a forward observer in World War II with the U.S. 103rd Infantry Division of the Seventh Army. A retired teacher, he lives in Howell, Michigan.