Sergeant Robert Parke Guinn, Service Number 32212070

Robert Parke Guinn was born on 15 March 1920 in the Lamar Community of Jonesborough, Washington County, Tennessee. He was lovingly known to his family, friends and school mates as Parke. After his mother’s death in 1929, his father moved the family to Norwich, Chenango County, New York. Robert and his father moved back in the mid-1930s, but the rest of Robert’s siblings stayed in Norwich. His father returned to Norwich where he passed away in 1937. Robert stayed with family here, he attended and graduated Lamar High School, Class of 1941. Robert was very active in school and a favorite of his classmates, they voted him as the class’s Most Handsome & Most Wittiest Boy. He was Captain of the Football team in 1939 and 1940, as Center and was his Senior Year’s Class Vice President and the Yearbook’s Art Editor. Robert also had smarts to go with his athletic prowess and was a member of the Beta Club in 1939, 40 and 41.

He traveled a bit after school to Georgia and back to Norwich, New York, staying with his sister, Blanche Thompson. While there he enlisted in the United States Army at Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York on 27 January 1942. Robert was dispatched and arrived on 7 February for basic training (boot camp) with Company C, 8th Battalion, Branch Immaterial Recruit Training Center (BIRTC) at Fort McClellan, Anniston, Alabama.

After completing the eight week course, he reported to Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina on 8 April. Robert was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry “Golden Arrow” Division. The 121st was known as The Old Gray Bonnet. He continued his training with them and participated in the second U.S. Army Maneuvers in Tennessee in September 1942. After the maneuvers ended in early November, the Gray Bonnets were encamped at Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Gray Bonnets and Robert arrived their new station, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 29 November. After settling in for a short bit, the Golden Arrows deployed to Yuma, Arizona and Camp Laguna, California to attend the Desert Training Warfare Center in March 1943.  While here, Robert also completed Chemical Warfare School.

Robert and the Gray Bonnets deployed back to Camp Forrest, Tennessee in August. The following three months at Camp Forrest were devoted to preparations for their upcoming overseas movement. The 121st left Tennessee on 25 November 1943 via train for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. At Kilmer they received more shots, exchanged and/or issued clothing, weapons and other assorted gear needed for war. After a week, they moved to the Port of Embarkation at Brooklyn, New York. There they boarded the SS Columbie and SS Excelsior for their 10 day sea venture to Belfast, Northern Ireland on 5 December. They arrived Belfast Harbor on 15 December 1943 to meet up with and/or await the rest of the division.

They would now complete another six and a half months of intense combat training in Northern Ireland at camps in Ashbrooke-Colebrooke, Brookeborough, Fintona and Dungannon. While there, the Gray Bonnets were visited by Lieutenant General George S. Patton, who observed their training and live fire maneuvers. He gave them a glowing atta-boy for what he saw. On 30 June 1944, the Gray Bonnets now aboard the USS Marine Raven under the cover of darkness, departed Belfast Harbor enroute to Utah Beach, Normandy, France. They and Robert arrived off the coast of Normandy on 4 July and started descending the rope lines down into the multiple awaiting Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI) for their short trip to the Beach. Being the first of the 8th Infantry Division to get on the beach, they formed up and were marched the 22-30 miles to Montebourg where they were designated as the VIII Corps’ reserve.  On 7 July, the Gray Bonnets were moved towards the town of La Haye-du-Puits where they linked back with their 8th Infantry Division. Their task was to support other U.S. Forces and join in liberating the town and the nearby areas from the German Army. Robert also received his promotion to Sergeant this same day.

Robert’s baptism under fire came the next day, 8 July while still in the vicinity of La Haye-du-Puits when the Germans opened fire on the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion after the Gray Bonnets had jumped off to attack them at 0700 (7am).  By 1730 (5:30 pm) the 2nd Battalion’s situation had become critical. Company L from the reserve 3rd Battalion was called in to support them. This turned the tide and during the cover of darkness the 2nd Battalion took control of the high ground. 9 July at 0600 (6am) the 3rd Battalion led the attack followed by the 1st and 2nd Battalions. By the end of the day La Haye-du-Puits was liberated, but still mopping up and fighting near-by continued until 14 July. This battle was costly in men and leadership for the 8th Infantry Division, but the men learned a lot about fighting the Germans, especially in the hedgerows. Next objective would be the town of Saint Patrice-de-Claids.

Robert was killed in action on 16 July 1944 near Saint Patrice-de-Claids, Manche, Normandy. He was 24 years old and was interred in France. Robert participated in the Normandy Unit Campaign. His awards include the Bronze Star with Valor Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. Robert being a son of both New York and Tennessee is also counted among World War II’s Honor Roll from Chenango County, New York.

Robert returned home in June of 1948 and his services were conducted at the Cherokee Baptist Church on 19 June. Afterwards, he was laid to rest in the Bethesda Methodist Church Cemetery next to his parents in Row 31, Grave 16. Military honors were given by the American Legion Post from Jonesborough. Robert received full military graveside honors with three volleys of rifle fire, playing of TAPS, folding and presentation of our nation’s flag to the family. His 10 year old nephew, Roland “Butch” Guinn from Norwich, New York placed a wreath.

Robert is the last of six children born to Isaac Berry Guinn and Cenia Edwards.

–Submitted By Allen D. Jackson, USAF (Ret)


The Johnson City Press, 28 May 1948
The body of Sergeant Robert Parke Guinn, former resident of Lamar community who was killed in France July 16, 1944, is expected to arrive in Jonesboro this morning. Son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Berry Guinn, Sergeant Guinn was a member of an infantry battalion and had been in service for more than two years. He was 23 years old and was graduated from Lamar High School in the class of 1941. Survivors, all of Norwich, N.Y. are two sisters, Mrs. Dewey Thompson and Mrs. Robert Ryan; three brothers, Clarence, Harold and Ben Guinn and a half-sister, Elizabeth Guinn; and step-mother, Mrs. Flossie Story Guinn.

  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Date of birth:
  • 15 March 1920
  • Date of death: 16 July 1944
  • County: Washington
  • Hometown: Jonesborough
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Bethesda Methodist Church Cemetery, Washington County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIX, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Robert P. Guinn

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