World War II Silent Hero


Isabelle Gibbs is truly making the most of this Veterans Day. A student at Algona Community Schools, Gibbs and her teacher, Brian Connick, are charged with researching and discovering the untold story of Private William George Turner, an American service member buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Their research is part of Sacrifice for Freedom®: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute, a cooperative learning program coordinated through National History Day®, and sponsored by Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, the USS Missouri Memorial Association, and Pacific Historic Parks.

This institute brings together 16 student-teacher teams from Hawaii, American Samoa, and the U.S. mainland for a once in a lifetime journey through history. Each team selected a Silent Hero® who died in the Pacific Theater of Operations. They then spend months trying to uncover this brave American’s story by conducting research and analyzing primary sources, such as war records, draft cards, maps, letters, and, when possible, family interviews.

In June 2021, the teams will assemble in Honolulu to learn more about their Silent Heroes and the unique role Hawaii played in World War II. While there, Gibbs will deliver a graveside eulogy for Private Turner at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. To complete this task, Gibbs is asking anyone who knew Private Turner or his family, or was a member of the Algona High School class of 1936, to please contact Mr. Connick at

The 16 teams participating in the 2020 Sacrifice for Freedom®: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute represent American Samoa, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Applications for the program were submitted by 129 teams from across the country, and the final 16 were selected by a committee of staff members representing National History Day and the sponsoring partner organizations.

It is with appreciation that we recognize the Department of Defense and John and Adrienne Mars for their support of this program.