William Frank Hanlin was a native of the Arlington section of Cranston, Rhode Island and the only child of George and Annie Hanlin. His father worked as the Stable Master for the Narragansett Brewery. Known as “Frank,” William Hanlin entered Rhode Island State College in 1911, majoring in Agriculture. He was a member of Rho Iota Kappa fraternity, captain of the freshman football team and played varsity basketball and football. He participated in the Army ROTC program and graduated in 1915 with a BS in Agriculture. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
In April 1918 when the United States entered World War I, First Lieutenant Hanlin deployed to France with the 4th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force. 1LT Hanlin was assigned as an infantry platoon leader, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment and was wounded in July 1918. He continued to participate in combat operations near the Trenche de Teton, Brieulles, France. On 4 October 1918, while leading a combat reconnaissance patrol in advance of the allied lines, his unit came under heavy machine gun fire from an enemy machine gun position. In leading the attack to destroy the enemy machine gun position, First Lieutenant Hanlin was killed in action.
For “Gallantry in Action,” by direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress, First Lieutenant (Infantry) William F. Hanlin, United States Army was awarded the “Citation Star” (Posthumously); and a “Silver Star” was placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. The Silver Star Medal was not established until 1932. At that time, Veterans of World War l who had been cited for “Gallantry in Action” were awarded the Silver Star Medal in lieu of the “Citation Star.” On 30 May 1932, Hanlin Square on Cranston Street at the intersection of Webster Avenue was dedicated in the memory of First Lieutenant William Frank Hanlin.
First Lieutenant William Frank Hanlin was buried with full military honors in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Meuse, France. First Lieutenant Hanlin answered our nation’s call during World War I and gave his life in service to America and the State of Rhode Island in the “Great War.”