Cecil R. French
Biography: Cecil Robert “Bob” French. was born on March 26, 1926 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the son of Cecil Mansfield French and Mabel Pointer French and attended Robert E. Lee Grammar School and Ramsay High School, both of Birmingham.
Service Time: Bob entered the service on June 21, 1944 at Fort McPherson in Atlanta Georgia and would go on to complete his training at Fort Hood, TX. He trained as a tank destroyer crewman and was quickly shipped to Germany as a replacement for the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He was placed in Company B, while the unit was attached to the 9th Infantry Division, near the Roer River. The unit would soon be engaged at the Ludendorf Bridge, at Remagen, crossing it on March 10, 1945. Less than 6 weeks later, that they had met up with the Russians at the Elbe.
Bob stayed with the unit taking on occupational duties until he was sent home in June of 1946, being discharged at Camp Bragg, NC. After WWII, Bob would return to school under the G.I. Bill and attend the University of Alabama, graduating in 1950. Between his studies, Bob married the former Doris Hill in 1949. She was from Brooklyn, NY Bob’s never quite put the military behind him but had joined the ROTC program at the school and received the DMW (Distinguished Military Student) award and a Commission with the Army. He was sent to the 3rd Infantry Division, 30th Regiment, Heavy Tank Company, which was at Fort Benning, GA. When the Korean War called, Bob was sent in as a platoon leader with the 81mm Mortars and then with the 75threcoil-less Rifle Platoon which was part of the 7th Infantry Regiment.
Wanting to continue to serve, Bob volunteered for service in the Vietnamconflict and worked in the quartermaster supply and service battalion in Qui Nhon. In October of 1970 he was promoted to Colonel and he would retire 3 years later in December. His long list of awards includes the Combat Infantry Badge, the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit and Army Commendation with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Bob would have two daughters, Dori and Annette, during these years of service. He continued his legacy of service by serving as President of the WWII Tank-Destroyer-fort Benning Association, which would later be expanded into the WWII Tank Destroyer Society. He would hold numerous positions within the Society, including being their first President, Secretary, Treasurer and editor of the group’s Panther Press newsletter.
After retiring, Bob took up residence in Dadeville, AL with his wife.
I want to thank Col. French for providing this information and allowing me to use his information on the 899th on my website. I also want to thank his daughter Dori for her assistance with this project.