Whitaker, Owen W. (P2, C4, L30)
Technician Fifth Grade Owen Wesley Whitaker was born in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, on 28 July 1921. He attended Kenwick School and was a graduate of Bryan Station high school.
T/5 Whitaker enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard at Lexington, on 4 November 1940, with Medical Department, 103rd Separate Battalion, Coast Artillery (Anti-Aircraft). He went on federal active duty with his unit in February 1941 and was stationed at Fort Sheridan until they deployed overseas in April 1942. He served in Ireland, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. According to newspaper accounts, he died in Naples April 28, 1944, as the result of an accident while on duty. No additional details of his demise have been found to date.
Whitaker's remains were returned to the United States in December 1948 and funeral services were held at Kerr Brothers. He is buried in the Lexington Cemetery [Section 36, Lot D, Grave 40] beside his father, Cecil R. Whitaker [in Grave 39]. He was survived by his mother, Mrs. Versa Whitaker Kendall, stepfather, T. S. Kendall, a sister, Mrs. Joseph A. Fields, and his grandfather, Wesley Sims.
Whitaker was a member of the Epworth Methodist Church and had been employed at Jerry Moore's poultry farm prior to the war.
NOTE: some of his military documentation listed his name as Wesley O. Whitaker.
Other casualties of the 103rd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons) (Mobile) during World War II were: MAJ Mortimer M. Benton; CPL Opal E. Cornn; PVT Buster Criswell; 1LT Hal T. Hackney; 1LT Thomas L. Hehman; T/5 Richard A. Heidkamp; 1LT Jeff Johnson, Jr. and PFC Kenneth Walsh.
The reorganization of the United States Army shortly before World War converted Kentucky's 123rd Cavalry on November 1, 1940, as the 103rd Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion and the 106th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion.
The 103rd Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Separate Battalion the battalion began training at Fort Sheridan, Lake County, Illinois on March 4, 1942. On April 30, the 103rd left New York, arriving in Northern Ireland on May 15. The unit was transferred to North Africa, arriving December 8. On July 2, 1943, the 103rd left North Africa and went to Sicily. The battalion participated in the Operation HUSKY, the Sicily Campaign from July 9 to August 17, 1943. Departing Sicily on November 17, the 103rd arrived in Scotland on December 9 1943. On September 29 1944, it was stationed at Belgium, remaining there until October 22. From October 1944 to April 28, 1945, the 103rd was in Germany. Between April 28 and May 6, the 103rd was in Czechoslovakia. The 103rd arrived at New York November 30. On December 1, 1945, the 103rd Antiaircraft Artillery Amphibious Automatic Weapons Battalion (Mobile) was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Redesignated May 13, 1946 as the 441st Field Artillery Battalion, Kentucky National Guard with Headquarters at Lexington, Kentucky. Currently the lineage and honors of the 103rd is carried by the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery , with Headquarters at Lexington.
The Lexington Herald 13 Jan 1942, Tue Page 10
The Lexington Herald 17 Feb 1943, Wed Page 10
Lexington Herald-Leader 10 May 1944, Wed · Page 12
The Lexington Herald 10 May 1944, Wed · Page 8
Lexington Herald-Leader 8 Nov 1948, Mon · Page 9
The Lexington Herald 16 Dec 1948, Thu · Page 5
Thanks to Denise Shanks, Librarian Lexington Public Library for providing research and information.
Thanks to SFC (R) John M. Trowbridge for providing research and information..