William M. McConahey graduated from medical school in 1942 and enlisted with the Army in 1943. He attended medical field service school and served as a battalion surgeon with the 357th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division.
In March 1944, McConahey and the division deployed to England in preparation for the D-Day invasion of France. He landed on Utah Beach with the 359th Infantry Regiment two days after the initial invasion.
There, McConahey served at a first aid station along with 32 fellow corpsmen, treating the many casualties. As a battalion surgeon, he stabilized wounded men near the front line before sending them to the rear for more intensive treatment. Besides attending to the physically wounded, McConahey treated men suffering from combat stress, assessing their mental state and sending them to the rear if necessary. The men operated as close to the front as possible, often within sight of German forces, hoping the Germans would follow the Geneva Convention and not fire at them.
Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945, McConahey and parts of the 90th Infantry Division converted to an occupation force and began restoring order in Germany. During this time, McConahey and his fellow corpsmen treated liberated prisoners, including those from the concentration camp in Flossenberg, Germany.
After returning home, McConahey promoted to captain and discharged. During his service, McConahey earned several medals and commendations, including Silver and Bronze Star Medals.
McConahey then began a medical fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. By 1966, he was a tenured professor of medicine. McConahey wrote and published a memoir of his experiences during World War II, Battalion Surgeon.
McConahey passed away in 2004.
More of his story is at https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.01026/.
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This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Michelle Cannon
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon