Warner S. Hale
The following tribute was researched and written by Lowell Silverman. Lowell came across Cpt. Hale while doing research on his grandfather, Dr. Robert Silverman, who served at the 32nd Station Hospital.
Biography: Warner Stephens Hale, nicknamed Bud, was born in Statham, Georgia on May 2, 1920. He was the son of Dawson and Estelle Hale. Hale attended the University of Georgia before the war.
Service Time: When he registered for the draft on April 13, 1942, he was described as standing 5 feet, 11½ inches tall and weighing 150 lbs., with brown hair and gray eyes. He may have entered the military soon after. A family photo indicates that he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Infantry Branch of the U.S. Army. According to Patrick J. Chase’s book Seek, Strike, Destroy: The History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II: “Two young lieutenants, who became life-long friends, Joe Uhler and Warner Hale, for example were given a mechanical test along with the rest of their class at the end of an officer’s refresher course at Camp Croft, South Carolina. The five highest scoring officer candidates were sent to tank destroyers.”
Lieutenant Hale was overseas in England by sometime in 1942, presumably with the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Patrick Chase's book indicated that he fought at Kasserine Pass during February 1943. If not before, he was a member of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion by the summer of 1943. He served in Company “B” of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion at Anzio. He and other members of the company were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for intense combat during the period of February 1–16, 1944.
One interesting anecdote recorded in Chase’s Seek, Strike, Destroy concerned one of Captain Hale’s men, Corporal Manuel Santos (Company “B”): “His ankle wound on July 10[, 1944] was so serious that Santos spent 13 months recuperating in a hospital in Alabama. Shortly before Santos was wounded, Lieutenant Hale came to him and asked to borrow a camera he had acquired in a trade for a Berretta pistol. Hale was going to Rome and wanted to take some pictures to send home. When he got back, Santos had been evacuated. Twenty years later, Hale returned the camera when he accidentally found out that Santos was living in nearby Brunswick, Georgia.”
By September 1, 1944, when Hale received the Bronze Star Medal, he had been promoted to captain. By October 1944, Captain Hale was C.O. of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion’s Headquarters Company; he remained in this role until March 31, 1945. He also spent some time as the Battalion Acting Assistant Adjutant intermittently in the fall of 1944 and from December 1944 to March 31, 1945. From April 1–21, 1945, he was the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion’s Acting Personnel Officer. It appears he transferred out of the 894th on or around April 21, 1945.
According to Captain Hale’s daughter, her father earned the Purple Heart as well as the Air Medal (which other members of the 894th are documented to have earned for performing artillery spotter duties in reconnaissance aircraft).
After the war, Hale returned to the University of Georgia and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Hale married Irene Slaughter (1925–2007) in 1950. The couple raised four daughters. According to his obituary in the Athens Banner-Herald, he “was in the home building and development business in the Athens area for many years and was a past president of the Athens Homebuilders Association. ” He died in Athens, Georgia on May 13, 2002, aged 82.
In addition to Lowell, we want to thank Warner's daughter Eve, for providing photos and information for this tribute. The grave marker photo is Copyright, Nancy Adams Bedell.