NORMAN — William “Bill” Elton Kempster, 70, of Byars, died Friday, April 5, 2013, after a long illness.
Services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Primrose chapel. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Ft. Sill National Cemetery in Elgin.
William Elton Ryan was born Feb. 23 , 1943, in Chappell, Deuel Co., Neb., to Beryl George and Virginia Margaret (Makey) Ryan. At age 13, he was adopted by Frederic LaVerne and Marjory Adele (Inness) Kempster and lived in Chicago Heights, Ill.
He attended Bloom Township High School, where he played the trumpet in the band, winning several Illinois state music awards.
Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 16 in 1960. He served in the Army for 21 years, 11 months and six days. He served in Vietnam from November 1966-January 1972 in field artillery. He was severely wounded in the battle of Ia Drang and spent almost a year recovering at Great Lakes Naval Hospital. He also served overseas in Germany and was in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. He served as senior drill instructor at Fort Sill.
Bill earned the following awards in the Army: National Defense Service Medal, Bronze star medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal (six), Vietnam Service Medal, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Medal, Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal with V Device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Army Commendation Medal with Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Marksman (Rifle).
After retiring from the Army in 1982, Bill learned to weld and worked as an oil pipeline welder.
He worked for the U.S. Postal Service from 1985-1998, first in Chicago as a mail handler, then in Oklahoma City as a mail processor and acting supervisor.
After retiring from the Postal Service, Bill moved to the country and raised chickens and turkeys.