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Walter W. Gentry Collection

Identifier: CSWS-0239

  • Staff Only

This collection documents the life and military service of Walter W. Gentry, particularly Gentry’s death while serving in France during World War II. This collection is arranged into three series:

The first series, Early Life (1927-1946), contains material from Gentry’s childhood and time before entering the service. This series includes grade school work and certificates, high school publications from Gentry’s attendance at Central High School, and material from his time at the University of Tennessee.

The second series, Military Service (1939 June 13-1986 March 17, undated) documents Gentry’s military service and subsequent death. This series includes military documents such as identification cards, induction and discharge papers, and a brief service diary kept by Gentry. Also included is correspondence between Gentry and his parents during his service, both while training stateside and his service overseas in the European Theater. It also contains the telegrams to his parents first notifying them of his status as missing in action, and later of his death. Condolence letters, cards, and notes to his parents are also included, both while he was designated missing and after the announcement of his death.

The third series, Oversize (1921-1945), contains oversize items such as school certificates, Purple Heart certificate, and a large scrapbook kept by an "Aunt Eunice" which documents Gentry's life from birth to death. This scrapbook includes photographs from throughout Gentry's life including his birth and upbringing with family and friends in Mississippi and Tennessee, his time at the University of Michigan, his military training at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and letters related to his death.


  • 1921-1986

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes [1 half, 1 quarter, 1 flat])


This collection documents the life and military service of Walter W. Gentry, particularly Gentry’s death while serving in France during World War II. Included are letters between Gentry and his parents during his time training and serving with the military, notifications to his parents of Gentry’s status of missing in action as well as the notification of his death, and condolence letters and cards to his family. Also included are military documents from his service, a scrapbook kept by a family member documenting his life, and items from his childhood and time in college.

Biographical / Historical

Walter Welch Gentry was born April 14, 1922 in Kingsport, Tennessee, to Lois Welch (1896-1992) and S. Walter Gentry (1880-1962). After graduating from Central High School in 1939, Gentry attended the University of Tennessee and University of Michigan. He entered the U.S. Army in March 1943 following time with the University of Michigan ROTC. He trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and went overseas in October 1944 to the European Theater, serving with the 290th Combat Engineers in the Seventh Army. Gentry was first reported as missing in action in early 1945, but was later designated as killed in action while in France on February 2, 1945. He is buried in Knox County, Tennessee.


This collection is in three boxes.

Previous Citation

This collection was previously listed as part of MS.1259 and MS.1298.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated through the University of Tennessee's Center for the Study of War and Society.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA