An Algona High School student and her teacher are asking for the public’s help in finding information about a graduate of the school who died nearly 79 years ago.
Marine Corps Private William George Turner died in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Algona history teacher Brian Connick says he and his student, Isabelle Gibbs, haven’t been able to find any family still living in the area.
“Basically, we know he graduated from Algona High School in 1936, so boy, if there was somebody out there that knew of someone that was from that graduating class or someone that might have known the Turner family or Mr. Turner himself, we would love to be able to sit down and talk to them and try to get a little richer understanding of who he was as an individual here in Algona.”
Connick and his student were scheduled to go to Hawaii this past June for an event sponsored by the National History Day organization, but the trip has been postponed until next June, due to the pandemic. Connick’s student is scheduled to give a eulogy for Private Turner at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, where Turner is buried.
“That eulogy is going to include information from his background living here in Algona, his military life,” Connick says, “his training and his service in World War II which is unfortunately very short because of his injuries that took place at Pearl Harbor and his subsequent death of December 12th of 1941.”
Connick and Gibbs are one of 16 student-teacher teams that will travel to Hawaii next summer to take part in the “World War II in the Pacific Student-Teacher Institute.”
“Boy, we’d love to hear from anyone that knew Private Turner,” Connick says.
Turner was born in February of 1919 and was 22 when he died at Pearl Harbor. The Mason City Globe-Gazette reported at the time that Turner was the first Algona citizen to die in the war. The newspaper account listed his mother, brothers named Robert and Lee and a sister named Ruth as his survivors.
(By Brian Wilson, KLGA, Algona)