NORMAN — Col. Alva D. Hollingsworth Jr. ( US Army, Ret.), 93, of Norman, passed away Thursday, June 13, 2013, among family and friends at the Norman Veterans Center. He was born Sept. 6, 1919, in Ryan, Jefferson County, Okla., to Alva D. Hollingsworth and Mae Virginia Carrithers Hollingsworth.
He was the oldest of three children, and was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Alma Hollingsworth Terry; and his brother, D.C. Hollingsworth, all of Ryan.
Col. Hollingsworth was a career U.S. Army Infantry officer who served in North Africa and Italy during World War II, in Germany at the Fulda gap during the Korean conflict, and in Vietnam during the major buildup in the mid-1960s. He retired following 30 years of service in 1971. His final act as an officer was to swear in his son to active duty in the U.S. Army.
During World War II, he made five amphibious landings, including North Africa, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio as part of the 45th Infantry Division (Thunderbirds), formed of soldiers from Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. It was during a holding action at Anzio where he was severely wounded by machine gun fire, ending his participation in the Italian campaign.
During the Korean conflict and at the height of the Cold War, there was concern among U.S. military planners that the Soviet military might take advantage of the Korean engagement to invade Western Europe. The Fulda gap, west of Frankfurt, was considered the logical route for a Soviet armored assault. As a pre-emptive measure, the 4th Infantry Division was reformed from World War II combat veterans and sent to Fulda. There they were deployed along the West German border with East Germany as a first line of defense. That is where then Lt. Hollingsworth began his ascent as a combat arms commander.