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William Elgin "Buzz" Senat

S/SGT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B, 2nd Platoon


Born 1923 in PA, Died 1986


County of enlistment: Philadelphia, PA
Other residence(s): Philadelphia, PA; Glenolden, PA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education after the war: University of the Arts (Philadelphia)
Notes: Rank changed from PVT in GA Roster to S/SGT per New York Area Leave List; Bronze Star; GO #40 Sec V, Hq 12th A Gp, 15 Jul 45. Meritorious service in connection with military operations, 20 Aug 44-20 Mar 45
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; Awards and Decorations; Ghost Army roster by state; Company B roster; Company B Names and Addresses roster; photo courtesy of Lynn Kennedy

William Senat was born on November 30, 1923, the youngest of three children. His father, Herbert Dixon Senat, Sr., was one of the leading commercial advertising artists in the country in the first decades of the 20th century, and his great-uncle, Prosper L. Senat, was a well-known watercolor artist.

His parents divorced in 1933 when he was 10 years old, and his father died the following year. In the years that followed, his mother, Mary Elgin Senat, became an active member of the Pennsylvania State Publicity Commission, traveling around the state in the late 1930s to launch motor clubs and promote travel within the state.

Buzz attended Friends Select High School in Philadelphia (where he was known as Elgin Senat). He registered for the draft at the age of 18, on June 30, 1942, and enlisted a few months later, on October 27. Five weeks after he joined the Army, his older brother, Herbert Dixon Senat, Jr., was killed at sea off the coast of England. A member of the Merchant Marine, he was serving as chief electrician on the Coamo, when it was sunk by a German submarine; no one survived. It was the largest merchant crew lost in World War II.

Near the end of the war, Buzz was serving as part of the Ghost Army crew that was guarding a displaced persons camp. Several fellow soldiers recall his shooting and killing two Russian teenagers who were raiding the town, after several days of Russian raids. This must have been an unsettling experience for everyone, given the non-combative role of the Ghost Army.

He was discharged from the Army on October 12, 1945 with the rank of Staff SGT. After the war, he attended the Museum School of Art in Philadelphia (now the University of the Arts).

He eventually became an art director and designer for Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby, a human resources and financial services consulting firm in Philadelphia. In that capacity he worked closely with John Kennedy, another Ghost Army veteran, who was a freelance artist in Philadelphia.

He also took up the restoration of antique cars at his home in Glenolden, PA, where he lived with his mother. He restored a 1913 Model "T" that he brought home from Maryland in barrels and pieces, and in 1960 was working on the restoration of a 1903 Maxwell Coupe. He was a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America, and his Model "T" was used as a show car for charitable benefits.

He was also an active boatman; in 1963 he was elected Commodore of the newly formed Cape (May) Yacht Club.

That same year he married Carole Louise Elicker in Manhattan, and they were said to have had two sons and a daughter. The marriage broke up after a few years.

He died on August 24, 1986 in Glenolden; his mother died the following year at the age of 97.


1937 article in Wilkes-Barre Times Leader about his mother Mary Elgin Senat

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1950 Pennsylvania WW2 veterans' compensation file

1960 article from Delaware County Daily Times (PA) re his antique car (includes biographical details)

1963 engagement announcement in Philadelphia Inquirer

1963 article in the Philadelphia Daily News about his election to Commodore of Cape Yacht Club

1986 VA death record

1986 Pennsylvania veteran's burial card

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