His obituary in the Burnet Bulletin,
May 30, 2012, read,
"WWII Veteran Gone
WILKS, Kirby K., 89, died Wednesday,
May 16, at home near Buda. He was survived by his wife of fifty
years, Joyce Schoen Wilks, their seven children, Leland and wife
Debra Wilks of Buda, Rhonda Wilks of Buda, Randal and wife Pam
Wilks of Burnet, Curtis and wife June Wilks of Buda, Mary Ward
Kramer and husband David of Lee's Summit, MO, Michael Ward of
Buda, and Diane Ward Bounds and husband Mark of Buda; fourteen
grandchildren Brian and Wayne Wilks, Amy Wilks Coleman of Buda;
Cole and Tully Wilks of Burnet; Chelsea and Will Wilks of Buda;
Christopher and Carly Ward Chase of Buda; Cole, and Lexi Kramer
of MO; J.D. and Trent Bounds of Buda; six great-grandchildren;
one sister, Myrl Wilks McLean of Friendswood; and numerous nieces
and nephews. His nephews Don Wilks and Jerry Ross live at Burnet.
He was preceded in death by his parents, W. W. Wilks and Erie
Taylor Wilks; his first wife Rita Merle Stroud; brothers Karl,
Vane, Dale, and Voy Wilks; and sister Reta Ross Howell of Burnet.
Kirby was a faithful member of Bluebonnet Lane Church of Christ
Kirby was born August 31, 1922,
near Loop, Gaines County, moved to Burnet County in 1924 to the
Uncle Bill Fry log house at Council Creek, later lived at Pebble
Mound, attended Council Creek, Pebble Mound, and Lake Victor
schools; and moved to Dublin in December 1938, where he completed
high school. Kirby had three children when he and Joyce married,
a widow with three children; and they had one son Curtis. Their
50th anniversary would have been June 10. He was a horseman,
carpenter retired from Brown & Root, and farmer.
A veteran of World War II, he
served in the 71st Infantry Division in France, Germany, and
Austria and joined Pattons Third Army crossing the Rhine
River, as a medic and truck driver, penetrating farther east
than any other U.S. combat unit.
Pall bearers were his grandsons
and burial was at Live Oak Cemetery, Manchaca, Travis County.
Kirby graduated from Dublin High
School either in 1941 or 1942 and was farming with his father
and brother Voy (an essential occupation) when drafted into the
Army in November 1942, he was inducted at Abilene, TX.
After basic training in Mississippi
and training as a medic at Camp Carson, Colorado, when in July
1943 the famous 71st Light Division was organized with 9,000
personnel and 1,800 mules as a mountain division. Transportation
was the Army mule and troops were trained in mountain and jungle
warfare. It had no motorized vehicles. It was reorganized in
June 1944 as a mechanized triangular 71st Infantry Division with
15,700 personnel. This conversion took place at Fort Benning,
Georgia. The Division arrived in France in Feb 1945 and saw immediate
combat in one town or province after another, breaching the Maginot
and Siegfried Lines on March 14. With the Rhine River crossing
into Germany on March 23, the 71st Infantry Division joined Patton's
Third Army for crossing Germany and advanced into Austria on
May 4. Its river crossings were the Main, Naab, Rhine, Danube,
Regen, Isar, Inn, and Ennis.
They liberated the concentration
camps of Straubing and Gunskirchen in Germany and more than 80
smaller camps in Austria -- a traumatic, horrifying experience.
He said the first concentration camp they came to was a POW camp,
where he saw skeletal men he had trained with. He was a medic
but wrote to his brother Vane early in 1946 that he had mostly
been a truck driver. Said he had wanted to go to Birchtesgaden,
the mountain retreat of Hitler, but couldn't get enough gasoline
to go there. The main thing he wanted, he said, was to get home
to the precious ones there and help his parents on the farm;
had saved as much money as he could to be able to help at home.
The 71st Infantry Division penetrated
farther east than any other U.S. combat unit and accepted the
surrender of the German Army Group South on May 7, 1945, one
day prior to V.E. Day, after a total rout of the German Sixth
SS Division Nord. Total days in combat were 45. Kirby wrote that
he was mostly a truck driver. He returned home when the Division
was deactivated March 11, at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The Third
Army conquered more than 82,000 sq. mi. of territory and captured
in battle 956,000 enemy and killed or wounded over 500,000 others.