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Wilbert W. “Bill” Sorenson Scholarship

Wilbert W. Sorenson – April 17, 1939 – November 24, 2023

Highly decorated Army veteran, Col. Bill Sorenson (Ret.) passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2023. He was born April 17, 1939, in Berthoud, Colorado to Wilbert W. Sorenson Sr. (Ret.) Air Force Master Sergeant, of Racine, Wisconsin and Elsie Doris Brannen of Pattensburg, Missouri.

Bill spent his military career serving his country with unparalleled devotion. In 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman. Within a year, he advanced to Sergeant and then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1960. In 1970, he accepted a regular Army commission in Armor and promoted to Colonel in 1981. He knew early on that he wanted to become a pilot and continued his education and training in Army Aviation. He flew several rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft over the course of three tours in Vietnam including AH-1G Cobra gunships, UH-1H Huey command & control aircraft, and OH-6A Scout helicopters. He command- ed the last U.S. combat unit (Air Cavalry Troop) to fight in Vietnam from 1972-1973; Political/Military Advisor to the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain from 1975-1976; Commander, 2nd Squadron, 10th US Cavalry in Ft. Ord, California from 1976-1977; Commander, Albany District Recruiting Command in Albany, New York from 1977-1979; Director of Training and Deputy Director of Operations for the US Army Recruiting Command in Ft. Sheridan, Illinois from 1979-1980. His final assignment was as the Commanding Officer of Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, where he retired from the U.S. Army in 1988 after 30 years of exemplary service and his devoted family always with him. Throughout his military career, Bill displayed an unwavering sense of duty and an extraordinary ability to lead with empathy and integrity.

Colonel Sorenson’s military decorations include the Silver Star; (2) Distinguished Flying Cross; Master Army Aviator Wings; Soldiers Medal; Bronze Star; (42) Air Medal; Purple Heart and U.S. Army Combat Infantryman Badge. He is also one of only 8,139 aviators to receive the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot Award”. In addition, he proudly wore the Spanish White Cross of Military Merit, personally awarded by Juan Carlos, former King of Spain.

In 1990, Bill accepted the position as President of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce; a position he held until 1995 when he became a business partner developing the La Crosse Pettibone Park Resort Campground & Banquet Hall.

In 2005, he joined the CAP SAR (Civil Air Patrol Search & Rescue) as an instructor pilot, embracing the opportunity to teach the CAP pilots. In 2014, Bill and Martha decided to move to Florida where they enjoyed years of flying, boating, and golfing. Bill also fulfilled a life-long wish to purchase a Jabiru 2300 light sport airplane which he maintained at the Woods & Lakes Airpark in Ocklawaha, FL. Bill is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Martha (Mayer) of Sidney, Montana who was working at the US Embassy in Thailand as Vice-Consul when they met. And by their daughters Michelle (Dan) Czerwinski and Kathleen (David) Morris. He is further survived by grandchildren Katelyn, Kevin, Kristin, and Keegan as well as eight great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Wilbert W. Sorenson Sr., his mother, Elsie Doris Brannen, and his brother, Robert Sorenson.

He leaves behind a legacy of honor, bravery, sacrifice and an incredible life filled with devotion and deep love for his family and close friends. We will miss the joy he brought into our lives through his bright blue eyes, caring smile, singing, playing the guitar or piano, going out on the pontoon boat, challenging others on the golf courses or flying the skies searching for the “world’s best hamburger.”

The family expresses their deepest appreciation to the staff at The Villages Hospital for their genuine compassion, understanding and kindness. Also, to Cornerstone Hospice for the comfort they provided him in his final hours.

Sentiments are encouraged at www.baldwincremation.com. You will forever be our hero.