MV’s American Hero: Mr. Bill England

Math teacher, Chess Team coach shares stories

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Ryan Bendersky

Ever been struck by lightning?  Familiar with skydiving? What about gymnastics?

Mr. Bill England, MV math teacher and Chess Team coach, recently shared his stories of his Army days and other extraordinary events that happened in his life.

England spent approximately three years and two months in the Army infantry from 1972-75.

What made him want to join the Army?

Mr. England expressed, “I went into the service because there were things that I did not like about the service. I felt that I did not have the right to criticize if I had not been in to see if I could help change things.”

The strong morality of Mr. England is what led him to join the Army and give his service to the country.

In particular, Mr. England shared one of his great Army stories.

“A friend of mine and myself were near a small town during the flood of 1972, and the two of us helped to rescue an older couple who were in water that was rising and was already on the second floor of the house. We got them out safely. We [had] to duck under the electrical wires on the telephone poles with the little row boat that we had,” Mr. England shared.

The flood of 1972 in Western South Dakota killed 238 people, and Mr. England helped to prevent that number from rising to 240.

If you happen to see Mr. England in the hallway or in his classroom in the library, you should express your thanks for his Army service.

What other remarkable things has he done in his life? Well some may know of his past in gymnastics.

Mr. England stated, “The pastor of our Church got the Church to give me a scholarship to the local YMCA. I was 17 when I started gymnastics. I broke my neck on a high bar about three months after starting and lost the use of my right arm for a year.”

“I took first place in the all-around competition my senior year in college and I was the first person in the history of Kentucky to throw a back double off of the high bar,” Mr. England added.

Mr. England  remained active as a gymnast until the age of 52 when arthritis hit him. What else has the MV veteran teacher experienced?

Mr. England is famous around the high schoolers for stories of being struck by lightning. Did he get struck twice, or maybe more than that?

The legend himself confirmed he has only been struck by lightning once, and it was extremely painful.

Mr. England explained, “Being hit by lightning hurts. I have never had any pain (including the broken neck) that has ever come anywhere close to how bad lighting hurts. The best comparison I have is a charlie horse or muscle cramp that doesn’t stop.”

“Lighting was ten times worse than any cramp or charlie horse that you have ever had for six solid weeks 24/7,” Mr. England described.

Mr. England has also participated in skydiving for many years.  Most recently, he has skydived at the Archway Skydiving Center at the Vandalia Airport.

These events turn a man into a great person that’s a joy to have around MV.

Caedmon Cook, ‘24,  and Benjamin Zirkelbach, ‘25, shared their impression of Mr. England.

Cook stated, “Mr. England has been a great chess coach not only to me but to the rest of the chess team. He’s an awesome guy and I’m glad he’s here at MVTHS.”

Zirkelbach expressed, “Mr. England is always a great mentor and leader. He is extremely constructive and optimistic in everything he does for the team.”

Cook, Zirkelbach, and the rest of the current chess team have been itching to get back into face to face chess meets.

Mr. England explained, “The pandemic has affected the chess team along with the rest of the world. People willing to play are down. Many meets are virtual instead of in person. We clean things that we never had to worry about before and we do it all while wearing a mask.”

Even with the disappointment that COVID-19 caused in the chess world, Mr. England stays very positive and the team is always moving forward.

“We have the makings of a good  team but it takes time to build, as all things do,” Mr. England shared.