HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama State Parks Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources paid tribute to a fallen World War II sailor lost at sea almost 75 years ago, renaming a hiking and biking trail the William Arthur Wells Trail at Monte Sano State Park on Saturday, April 14. Electrician’s Mate Wells’ brother, Robert Wells, donated approximately 40 acres of land – that included a portion of the trail – to the park in honor of his late brother.
William Arthur Wells was just 21 years old when he became one of 253 American sailors who died aboard the destroyer USS Hoel when the ship sank in the Battle of the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in 1944. Robert Wells, now 81 years old, was the youngest of six brothers from the Huntsville area who all served in the military.
Known to his family as Arthur, Wells worked with the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps at Monte Sano before his service in the Navy. His name is engraved in the CCC Memorial Stone near the 1.5-mile trail now designated in his honor.
“It is with tremendous humility and respect that we honor Mr. Wells’ sacrifice for his nation in World War II,” said Greg Lein, Director of the Alabama State Parks Division. “Robert Wells wanted his property to be used by visitors who love our parks so much and we are privileged to rename this trail that crosses the property as the William Arthur Wells Trail.”
Robert Wells attended the ceremony Saturday with his older brother, Charles, and their families, along with Wells’ land-owner partner Chuck Sisco. Another partner who shared ownership of the donated property, Ricky Underwood, was unable to attend.
“We really appreciate the State Parks Division naming this trail to honor my brother,” Wells said. “When we talked about donating the land, they asked if there was anything they could do for us and I thought it would be nice to remember Arthur this way.”
Formerly called the Chestnut Trail, the William Arthur Wells Trail is rated easy to moderate, according to Monte Sano State Park Manager Brian Moore.
“We were happy that Mr. Wells wanted his property to become part of Monte Sano State Park,” Moore said. “We have almost 31 miles of trails here and to have this one named in honor of a serviceman who gave his life for our country certainly makes us even more proud of the work everyone does to ensure our visitors enjoy this part of our park.”
Monte Sano State Park, located at 5105 Nolen Avenue in Huntsville, is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. The trails close 30 minutes before sunset and office hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.