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Stanley Boyd Nance

T/4 in Signal Co, Special : Radio A

Military occupational specialty: 740 (radio operator, intermediate speed)


Born 1918 in UT, Died 2021

County of residence at enlistment: Salt Lake County, UT
Other residence(s): Kaysville, UT; Mill Creek, UT
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: shipping and receiving clerks
Notes: promoted to CPL; final rank S/SGT
Source: Unit Shipment 10143-D, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945; ; bio info from The Ghost Army by Beyer/Sayles; photo courtesy Nance family

Stan Nance was born on February 28, 1918 in Garfield County, UT, the sixth of seven children. In 1920, the census lists them living on a farm in Kaysville, UT.

In 1923, the family moved to the 40-acre farm where his mother had been born; his father had been asked to take it over. Stan would spend the next 14 years of his life helping his parents and siblings with farm labor. He graduated from Jordan High School in Sandy, UT in 1936, and in 1938 embarked on a two year LDS mission to Tahiti, from which he returned in December, 1940.  (His October 16, 1940 draft registration card records his presence in Tahiti at the time.)

After he returned, he found work as a shipping and receiving clerk. He married Helen Wardle on June 19, 1942 at the Salt Lake Temple. Helen had been an All Star softball player and she was also a singer—later a charter member of the Utah Chorale.

Stanley enlisted in the Army a few months later, on October 5. He was rapidly promoted to Corporal, and in January 1943 was selected for a radio technician course at Fort Knox. He graduated at the top of his class; he later recalled that he was able to transmit Morse code at a remarkable 65 words per minute by using a strumming method instead of the traditional up-down tapping method. He adapted his own technique from his experience learning to play the ukulele during his two years in Tahiti. During the war he named his radio vehicle the "Kilowatt Kommand." Later he said, movingly, about his experience in the Ghost Army: "Of all the radio messages that I sent, could there have been just one of those that changed the tide of battle for an American victory, where one mother or one new bride was spared the agony of putting a Gold Star in their front window? That's what the Twenty-Third Headquarters was all about."

He was discharged from the Army on September 20, 1945 with the rank of Staff SGT and returned to Utah and his wife and young son.

Over the subsequent years, Stan worked in insurance, real estate, and securities before starting his own oil drilling company, Utah Ohio Gas & Oil Co. He and his wife were also the parents of 14 children—seven sons and seven daughters—and were the subjects of frequent family portraits in the Salt Lake press. Stan, Helen, and their children played together, vacationed together, and attended church together. According to his obituary, Stan loved taking the family fishing and on many vacations, including trips to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and Disneyland. Stan was an avid gardener all his life and raised tomatoes from seed until he was 100 years old.

Sadly their son Shirl died in Vietnam early in 1969; he was posthumously awarded a Silver Star for his heroism.

Stanley and Helen were both very active in the LDS in Salt Lake. He served as a Sunday school teacher and a basketball coach, and also served on several boards and leadership groups. Helen's combination of family, church, and community activities earned her a nomination for Utah Mother of the Year in 1980.

In retirement, Stanley returned to Tahiti with Helen, leading a church mission there. Helen died in 1986.  

Stanley was one of three Ghost Army veterans to attend the events surrounding the opening of the Ghost Army Exhibit at the World War Two Museum in New Orleans in March of 2020. His family is also very involved. His great- granddaughter Madeline Christianson, who  attended the New Orleans event with her family, won the World War 2 History Award at the National History Competition in 2019 for her work on the Ghost Army, and she was very active in the campaign to win a Congressional Gold Medal for the unit. Rick Beyer describes her as "a powerhouse, a wonderful advocate."

Stanley died in Sandy, UT on December 19, 2021, only a few days after the U.S. Senate passed S 1404, the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act. He is interred at Larkin Sunset Lawn in Salt Lake City, UT.



1920 census

1936 Jordan High School yearbook

1940 draft card

1940 shipboard record re his return from mission in Tahiti

1942 article in Deseret News (Salt Lake City UT) about his marriage,0.0809138,0.8625162,0.14795528&xid=3398&_ga=2.117420677.2098177546.1613760687-753706714.1613425876

1942 enlistment record

1942 Utah US Military records

1943 article in the Salt Lake Telegram (UT) re his military service

1944 article in Salt Lake Tribune (UT) re his military service

1954 article in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) re his family of 9 children

1965 article in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) re family of 14 children; 13 at home

1969 article in The Deseret Sampler (Dugway UT) ; son died in Vietnam

1980 article in the Salt Lake Tribune (UT) re Helen Nance nominated as Utah Mother of the Year

2019 University of Utah Veterans Day Commemoration; Nance was honoree

2019 article in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City UT) re his GA service and great-granddaughter Madeline's work on the the Ghost Army

2021 obituary

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