This weekend coincides with the 237th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps, so it’s natural to lump Marines into your Veterans Day speeches, especially when you are a Marine and that’s 95% of your complement of friends.
There is a Marine/Army Vet I sat down with on Sat who is very special and exudes everything about the Corps values that we love so dare. Bill Stanbery fought in WWII on the tail end of the battle of Saipan. He is a straight forward guy who has raised one helluva son, a friend of mine named John, who in turned has raised two awesome boys with his wife Millie. One is now a 1stLt in the Corps out in California.
Let’s just say that the apples that fall of this tree never go bad and sit there above all the others.
The Corps values that Bill learned as a Marine were ingrained through his training and the brotherhood he formed in combat. After WWII, he settled down with his wife and was talked into joining the Army reserves here in Fort Worth to make a few extra dollars.
Korea kicked off and “BOOM” Bill was over in the fight. In July of 1950, his unit was in mass disarray with North Koreans attacking left and right with T-34 tanks. As Bill was racing down a road just ahead of enemy after destroying some left behind artillery pieces, he saw a GI’s body in the ditch. He ordered the driver of his Jeep truck to stop so he could check on him. The driver, young and experienced wanted to leave him and push on.
Bill wouldn’t have any of that and he forced the truck to a stop. Walking over to the lifeless body, he soon realized that this GI was in fact alive, so he hauled him into the bed of the Jeep and held him as they raced to a field hospital.
The first one they came to, the doctor said “You should have left him, there isn’t anything I can do for him.” Bill was mad…and told the Doctor, “Marines don’t leave their men or their bodies behind for the enemy to mutilate. “
They got directions to the next MASH unit and the shortcut would take them through some heavily occupied enemy territory. His buddy manned the .50 cal on the jeep and off they went, fighting their way down the road. They made it to the next hospital and the doctor there said there was nothing he could do since they were out of blood. Bill rounded up a bunch of Soldiers with the same type blood and they all donated for this wounded man.
After that, the Doc said he would give it his best and oh by the way, “What is your name Soldier?”
Seven months later, Bill had emergency leave to go home and see his dad who was about to die. He was a WWI Vet with only one lung from the Germans gas attacks and Bill was able to make it from the fight before his dad passed.
You could imagine that heading back to the war wasn’t really what he wanted to do at that moment in time after the funeral, but off he went.
At Camp Drake in Japan, he had to check in for his airlift assignment back to Korea. When the personnel Sergeant there asked for his name, Bill watched the man turn white. He said “Sgt, are you ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost…”
The Sgt looked up at Bill and said, “No, I’m looking at an Angel.” He paused “You are the man who saved my life.”
Bill is a very humble guy and blew off the much deserved accolades I’m sure. The Sgt asked him “Bill, do you really want to go back to Korea? Hint Hint… Bill thought about it for a minute and said “No, not really…” I think he had seen about all the fighting he needed to about that time and part of him wanted to get up to the front and the other part wasn’t in the mood.
Mind you it’s January of ’51 now and cold as hell fighting the ChiCom’s there on the border. The Sgt ended up assigning him to duties in Japan for the rest of his short tour he had left.
Another example of a great Vet who served our Country with honor and would go out of his way to save a fellow serviceman!! Thank you Bill for your service and thanks to all the other millions who have served and continue to serve today…