William Arthur Sirmon (Oct 13 1894 - Mar 12, 1971) was the youngest of 4 children born to William S. Sirmon and Sally Florice Chavers in Bluffspring, Florida. His mother died when he was 5 in 1900 at the age of 32. His father would move to Prichard, Alabama, on the outskirts of Mobile and would live to see his son become a decorated hero of World War I. He would even get to read his son's day-to-day account of that War at its publishing in 1929 before his death in 1931 at the age of 65.
Young "Bill" Sirmon was drawn to the military and to the power of the written word at an early age. In 1912 and 1913 he was the Editor of the Fort Gordon Military Institute's Yearbook which had flourishes of his zeal for writing and poetry. This listed him in the "Who's Who of Fort Gordon" as "Best Orator".
From 1913 to 1918 "Lieutenant Sirmon" served for five years in the Philippine Constabulary in Mindanao. For 3 of those years he was the Deputy Governor of the Province of Davao on the island of Mindanao. As Deputy Governor he held jurisdiction over a large Japanese colony there and visited Japan and China each twice. The last year as Deputy Governor he was required to keep a daily journal which established the discipline and daily routine that would carry over to his day by day annotating of his part in the "War to end all Wars." This lead to the diary's publishing in completely unedited form in 1929.
After the war William Arthur Sirmon was decorated 3 times for bravery. Once side by side with Alvin York (of the movie "Sergeant York" fame as played by Gary Copper), just the two of them, decorated by General John Pershing in February of 1919 in France. He received France's highest award "The French Legion of Honor." He also received the Croix de Guerre with Palm, the American "Distinguished Service Cross" and "Silver Star". He was an honorary citizen of France as a result.
On January 2nd, 1921, he married Sallie Ruth Connelly (10-27-1897 to 8-31-1979) and they would raise three children in and around Atlanta (early years in Decatur, Georgia):
William Arthur Sirmon Jr. (9-3-1922 to 4-12-2003),
George Cornwell Sirmon (6-14-1924 to 11-22-1997) and
Lenore Sirmon Majors (b 1-15-1930 to present).
Beginning in 1930 the author served as the Adjutant of the Georgia "American Legion".
Lieutenant Sirmon would rise thru the ranks and finish WWI as a Captain and serve in various capacities as military advisor in World War II as "Major Sirmon" and then "Lt. Colonel Sirmon". He was employed by Bell Aircraft in 1944 and in an October 21, 1944, article in "Bell Aircraft News" titled "Colonel Sirmon Will Interpret News Bulletins", the first of a long series of paragraphs chronicling his distinguished career started:
"The first of a series of talks designed to acquaint workers with the war situation on all fronts, particularly in the Pacific area "where Bell-built B29s are pummeling Jap installations, will be given Monday by Lt. Col. W. A. Sirmon, inactive veteran of World Wars I and II and outstanding authority on military affairs." .... His two sons would fight in both theaters of WWII, one in the Navy in the Pacific and one as a paratrooper over Germany.
The author traveled up and down the West Coast giving seminars and updates and warnings of possible invasion from the Orient to our western shores and preparedness for such an eventuality. Along the way, the author had a stint teaching at LSU in Baton Rouge as a military Professor. He recalled a night when he and Mrs. Sirmon were eating at a nice French restaurant long after the war. He was in uniform that evening and as they went to pay, the owner, a Frenchman, came out and would not allow them to pay for their great meal stating that "anyone who wore the French Legion of Honor (France's highest decoration) (and, hence, an honorary citizen of France)
would never pay in his restaurant".
Later he would permanently settle down in Atlanta and work in real estate. His office was down the hall from the Perry Adair Law offices where the “Golf Great” Bobby Jones had his law office (and he would get his son and grandson an autographed copy of "Golf is My Game" in 1960 by the golfing legend).
William Arthur Sirmon is in the Georgia archives as the most decorated man from Georgia in World War I (Mrs. William Arthur Sirmon always replied, "from Georgia my foot, 'most decorated man of the war - period!'")The author is in the book "Who's Who in Georgia - Georgia's 100 Most Prominent Men". Three years before his death, The "Atlanta Constitution" did an extensive two part series on the 50th Anniversary of "Armistice Day", November 11, 1918, highlighting William Arthur Sirmon.
"That's War" and many accompanying newspaper articles on the author are an invaluable look at the "esprit de corps" of the "American Doughboy" and through the eyes of a young man who typified the best and brightest and bravest that was at the heart and soul of America herself.