William G. Hansult Jr.
From the time I was a teenager, I was fascinated with the history of World War II. I studied it in school and later read numerous books on the subject. I knew my father was in the war and assigned with the Forty-Second, Rainbow Division. However, he would never talk about it, and when I would ask him, he would always say that he just typed army forms and guarded POWs.
I doubted he was telling me everything because when I was younger, I discovered boxes hidden in the back corner of the attic that were nailed shut and when I pried them open there were many Nazi and SS artifacts, together with my father’s Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge.
Many years later, when I was almost fifty years old, my parents and I took a trip to Germany and Austria where, by coincidence, we visited many of the places my father had been during the war.
After the trip, I was convinced that there was much more to my father’s war experiences than he had told me. That trip triggered a curiosity to learn of my father’s experiences. But even more compelling was that the trip caused me to feel that the men of the Rainbow Division were calling me to tell their story, one that was incredibly untold.
As a result, after the trip, I began researching my father’s and the Rainbow’s history. Although I’m a lawyer, not a professional historian or writer, I figured if I kept digging deeply and long enough, I would be able to find the answers.
During this time, unbeknownst to my father, I began combing every resource I could find. I was able to find numerous materials, including unpublished declassified action reports, diaries and recorded histories written by men he served with, together with many other published historical resources. Finally, the parts of the puzzle started to come together.
My journey finding and reading all the materials was a labor of love. It was also fascinating. However, there was a part of the picture still missing . . . my father’s own words.
Finally, I told him of the research I had done. He was pleased, and it was only at that point he began to open up and tell me of his experiences with the Rainbow Division.
Shortly before my father passed away in February 2014, I began assembling the years of research and started writing this book as a tribute to him and the men he served with in the Forty-Second Rainbow Division.
My hope is that this book brings to light the accomplishments of the men in the Forty-Second Rainbow Division during World War II and to honor them for their bravery and service.
I was educated on both the East and West Coasts and hold a BS and MBA from New York Institute of Technology and a JD from the Santa Barbara College of Law. I am a member of the State Bar of California and make my home on the Central Coast of California.