April 1, 2014
SUBJECT: RARE 1942 HARLEY-DAVIDSON WLA ON DISPLAY AT THE KEETER CENTER
1942 Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle owned by Joe and Liz Armstrong of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Guests of The Keeter Center may view a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle. The WLA is a model of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle produced to U.S. Army specifications during and around World War II. In 1940, they were produced in small numbers as part of a general military expansion, but later after the United States entered into World War II, production increased.
The motorcycle is on loan to the College for several months, courtesy of owners Mr. and Mrs. Joe Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong, a retired Army Ranger, purchased the motorcycle to not only enjoy the bike, but to honor a fellow Arkansas native, a West Point Graduate and Brigadier, General William O. Darby.
The motorcycle is the style that Gen. Darby preferred to use while moving between troops during World War II. Originally from Fort Smith Arkansas, he was best known for his organization of the First Ranger Battalion during World War II. An exemplary leader in combat, Gen. Darby received many awards, including two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star for “Gallantry in Action,” a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantry Badge, and the British Distinguished Service Order. He was killed two days prior to the end of World War II.
Ralph Foster Museum Curators Tom Debo and Mike Combs researched and located the Harley. For more information, please contact Debo at (417) 690-3407.