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Creator of famous 'sound off' chant honored with mural in Sandersville

The chant is familiar to many people in the military around the world, but did you know it was created by a Sandersville native?

SANDERSVILLE, Ga. — 'Sound off! One, two! Sound off! Three, four!'

The 'sound off' chant (also known as the Duckworth chant) is familiar to many people in the military and around the world, but did you know it was created by Sandersville native Private Willie Lee Duckworth in 1944?

Duckworth was stationed at Fort Slocum in New York when he created the chant. According to his daughter, Connie Duckworth Pinkston, his unit had trouble keeping in step when they marched.

"One of the drill sergeants asked my father if he would take them out in the woods and see if he could come up with something. Lo and behold they came up with 'sound off,'" she said.

The chant was originally called the Duckworth chant. It served its purpose of keeping soldiers in time when they marched, but it also helped boost morale during the grueling days of being a foot soldier.

Eventually, the chant took off and many different verses have been added throughout its use.

A mural recently completed in Duckworth's hometown was painted by Color The World Bright students from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. It was funded by a Georgia Council For the Arts Grant and contributions donated by the community of Sandersville.

While the world may know her father's legacy because of his song, Pinkston remembers him most as a great dad.

"What he was was a good, loving, fatherly family man," she said.

Private Duckworth died in 2004, and Pinkston says her whole family is humbled to see their father honored.

"Very proud. The grandchildren, great-grandchildren in our family will be able to view this and know their history," she said.

The mural will have an official unveiling during Sandersville's Memorial Day celebrations beginning at 10:30 a.m. The mural is located at 135 W. Church Street in Sandersville.


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