William Harvey Birbari was born on April 19th, 1914 in Cairo, Egypt. William was the son of Nessim and Lula Birbari, he was the oldest of three children. The Birbari’s immigrated from Egypt in 1929 to Monmouth, Illinois a small town roughly an hour away from the Quad Cities. William’s Father had passed away, and Lula had to raise the three children herself. In a Monmouth Illinois Census, it was shown that all of the Birbari’s spoke English even though they had just immigrated to the U.S.
William Birbari began training in a C.M.T.C. camp during the 1930’s. C.M.T.C. stood for citizen’s military training camps. These camps allowed U.S. males to train for military service while not fully signing up for active, or reserve duty. C.M.T.C camp training lasted a month, and if you completed four summer courses you would be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army reserves. William Birbari became a second lieutenant in 1939, and was showcased with his other C.M.T.C. trainees in a parade in Saint Marie, Michigan.1
Birbari continued to rise through the ranks, when he was sent off to fight in World War II he was ranked as a captain of infantry. Birbari received many awards for his service in WWII. He received a Bronze Medal Star, a Purple Heart Medal, and a Legion of Merit. A Bronze Medal is received for heroic achievement, and service in a combat zone. The Purple Heart is awarded to servicemen and women who are injured or killed in service. The Legion of Merit is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievement. Birbari continued gaining ranks in the service. He eventually became a Brigadier General in the United States Army, which is only four ranks away from the highest rank in the Army.
Birbari’s service to his country was also recognized by having a reserve base made in his name. The BG William H. Birbari United States Army Reserve Center in Fraser, Michigan is named in Birbari’s name. William H. Birbari passed away January 26th, 1968.2 He is buried at the Rock Island Arsenal. He was a terrific man, and served his country in a terrific way.
1 C.M.T Camp Holds First Parade (The Evening News, Sault Sainte, Michigan) Friday, July 14th, 1939