William W. Nairn III, Army colonel

August 17, 2013
William W. Nairn III
Army colonel

William W. Nairn III, a retired Army colonel who received two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart during the Korean War, died July 27 at his home in Melbourne Beach, Fla. He was 90.

The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Janice Nairn.

Col. Nairn, who served more than 30 years in the Army, retired in 1977 after assignments that took him to Washington, Europe and Central America. He was commandant of the U.S. Army School of the Americas in the Panama Canal Zone. He also worked on the staffs of the Department of the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a company commander during the Korean War, he first received the Silver Star in July 1950 for blocking an advance of enemy forces, inflicting about 200 casualties and later withdrawing his company with minimal casualties despite heavy fire.

He was awarded a second Silver Star days later, when he led an action that cut off an enemy supply route and trapped enemy soldiers attempting to withdraw from a key hill. He then helped lead his troops to safety amid intense fire.

William Wallace Nairn III was born in Washington and grew up on a farm in Wheaton. He graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring and was a 1947 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

In 2003, he moved to Melbourne Beach from Wheaton.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Janice Lawton Nairn of Melbourne Beach; two daughters, Laurie Simmons of Melbourne Beach and Jean Wodka of Merritt Island, Fla.; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

— Stefanie Dazio

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