Everyday you and I have a chance to meet history face-to-face. Often times though, we allow it to walk right on by without as much as a side-glance.
Perhaps we’re jus’ to busy – but I’ve tried to change this in myself. I have a real interest in northern California, Nevada, political and military history.
My major focus in military history comes down to the two branches of service I enlisted in: the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps. The best place to find stories and information about these subjects are to simply shake-hands with men and women I identify as previous military.
That’s how I came to meet 85-year-old Bill Walsh, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the tender age of 16 in 1943. Bill was in the Corps until 1946 when he was Honorably Discharged from active duty.
The reason I bring this up is that Bill fought on Guadalcanal and later on Iwo Jima. Both battles were literally ‘Hell on earth,’ as the Marines fought the Imperial Japanese Army for control of the two islands.
It’s estimated that 850 World War II veterans pass away everyday in the U.S. That’s a sad statistic to say the least – but a natural one nonetheless.
Furthermore, it’s estimated that the last World War II veteran is expected to pass away in the year in 2035. This is based on the fact that the last World War I veteran died 90 years after the last battle of the ‘War to end all wars.’
That’s not much time when you look at the ‘bigger picture.’
For me – it was a pleasure to shake Bill’s hand and thank him for his service. Furthermore, it was enjoyable to listen to his ‘salty’ tales of two of the most horrific battles in Marine Corps history – as lived first-hand and not from a documentary, book or movie.
Thank you again, Bill, and Semper Fidelis!