October 30, 1915 (Maspeth, NY) – September 4, 1957 (Norwalk, CT); 41 years old
Married to Margaret Rusin Gesner (1917-1953) on November 16, 1936.
One son, Robert William Gesner (1940-). Graduated from West Point, Class of 1964.
Local address 8 Burwell Street and Deerwood Manor.
Enlisted on October 5, 1942
Serial number 11096185
Unit: 82nd Airborne Division, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Born to Howard (1888-1959) and Mary Wood Gesner (1890-1961). One brother, Howard G. (1914-1948) and one sister, Marion Gesner Drain (1944-2010).
From The Norwalk Hour August 4, 1944
PVT WM. GESNER IS WOUNDED
Wife Gets Letter He Is In Hospital In England; War Department Lists Him Missing
Private William Whitney Gesner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gesner of Murray Street and husband of Mrs. Marjorie Rusin Gesner Deerfield Street, was wounded in action on D-Day and is now in an American Hospital in England, according to three letters written by a nurse who is attending him at the hospital. Just yesterday Private Gesner’s wife received a telegram from the War Department stating that he was missing in action on June 6, indicating the War Department does not yet know of his whereabouts. The last letter stated that Private Gesner had just undergone an operation and due to arm injuries was unable to write, but that he would be able to write sometime in the very near future. Private Gesner is a paratrooper with the 508th Paratroop Division. He enlisted in October of 1942 and received his basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida. He was shipped overseas in December of 1943 and has been in Scotland, Ireland, England, and France. He attended local schools, is a former Hour newsboy, and previous to entering the service was employed by the General Electric Company in Bridgeport. He has one son, Robert, who is three years old.
From The Norwalk Hour August 26, 1944
QUEEN PINS MEDAL ON LOCAL SOLDIER
A U.S. Army General Hospital — Pinning the Purple Heart to his hospital robe with her own hands during a recent visit Queen Mother Mary wished Private William Gesner, 28, of Deerfield Street, Norwalk, Connecticut, a speedy recovery at the U.S. Army General Hospital in England where he was a patient. Queen Mary was accompanied on her visit by Colonel Leonard D. Heaton, of Stanton, Virginia, commanding officer, and his staff. Private Gesner is a member of a tough paratroop unit that dropped into Normandy on the morning of D-Day, but he choked with emotion when the Queen spoke to him, and his eyes became a little misty. “She really looked like a Queen,” he said. “And yet she reminded me of my grandmother — she was so darned nice.” Private Gesner’s wife, Mrs. Margaret Gesner, lives with their two and one half year old son at the Deerfield Street address. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gesner Live on Murray Street, Norwalk, Connecticut. Before entering the Army, Private Gesner was employed by the General Electric Company, Bridgeport.
From The Norwalk Hour October 26, 1945
WOUNDED VETERAN BROUGHT HOME
Wm Gesner, Hurt Overseas, Returns On Sick Leave; Red Cross Furnishes Ambulance
PFC William Whitney Gesner, wounded in action in France on June 14, 1944, and hospitalized at that time, arrived here on leave this week from Newton D. Baker Hospital in Martinsburg, Virginia and will be glad to see his friends at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Gesner of Murray Street. Also at his parents’ home are his wife, Mrs. Margaret A. Gesner and their little three year old son, Robert, who reside on Deerfield Street. The wounded soldier’s visit home was made possible through the cooperation of the Norwalk and Darien Chapters of the American Red Cross which provided an ambulance and drive to meet him in Jersey City, New Jersey, to which point he came by train. His return trip in about 10 days will also be made in the way. PFC Gesner, who sustained injuries of the back when struck by shrapnel shot in combat in France, was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. His glider was forced down in enemy-held territory and he was one of four men to survive gunfire of the Germans, only to be later struck in combat. He was removed to England for three months’ treatment before he was flown to this country, arriving at Mitchell Field, New York, on September 20, 1944. He recently underwent his third serious operation within an 18-month period and is responding in an encouraging manner although he probably will continue to receive treatment for several months. Before he was inducted into the service in October 1942, he was with the General Electric Company in Bridgeport.
Buried in Riverside Cemetery, 81 Riverside Avenue, Norwalk, CT. Section 19, unknown grave #. Photo from findagrave.com.