Memphis Commercial Appeal: Former Army ranger, now a Memphian, praised for World War II heroics

Posted on March 1, 2012

WASHINGTON – A former U.S. Army Ranger living in Memphis who initially refused a Purple Heart medal after being wounded at Pointe du Hoc on D-Day 1944 was praised on the Senate floor Wednesday as “a remarkable hero.”

Wilbur K. Hoffman, known to his friends and family as Bill, turns 91 on Friday. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., took to the Senate floor to tell the story of a man who volunteered for the Rangers and stormed the cliffs between the Utah and Omaha beachheads to liberate northern Europe in June 1944.

“Forty years after Bill Hoffman and his fellow Second Battalion Rangers clambered up the rocky cliffs on the shoreline of France, President Reagan returned to the windswept spot to pay tribute,” Alexander said in prepared remarks. “He called them ‘the boys of Pointe du Hoc.’ He said. ‘These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.' "

Alexander noted that Hoffman is now one of only three left from the original Second Battalion, “Dog Company.”

Alexander noted that Hoffman’s son, David, recently decided to contact the U.S. Army about the medal awarded to wounded soldiers after his father declined it in the days after the D-Day fighting. Alexander explained that Hoffman – “in an army ward surrounded by soldiers who had lost arms or legs in the fighting, believed that his wounds didn’t measure up and said, ‘I don’t think so.’ "

Hoffman is not a Tennessee native but trained with the Rangers in 1942 at Tullahoma and, after retiring from the military, returned to Ashland City. He now lives in Memphis with his extended family.