He was enlisted and crossed the equator on board the USS Colorado in 1936 as a “shellback.” He was stationed at Pearl Harbor from 1936 to 1937 before being transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai.
When WWII started in 1942, Bill was assigned to Parachute School and was transferred to the 4th Parachute Battalion in Bougainville. When the paratroopers were recalled from the Pacific in 1943, he went to the Parker Ranch in Hawaii to prep for the invasion of Iwo Jima.
Something big happened to Bill at the time while the invasion occurred. Bill arrived at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. On the morning of February 28th, he was heading to the front lines. He was told to relieve another Marine in a foxhole. Tapping him on the shoulder, Bill said, “I’m here to relieve you.” When the man turned around, Bill realized that the Marine was his brother-in-law, the only brother of his wife. They only had the opportunity to say hello and then goodbye as they switched positions.
On March 3rd, Bill led his men to the direction of the Japanese front line. Under a salvo of rocket fire and grenades, he made his way closer to the line. After throwing two grenades, one of the Japanese grenades hit close to Bill, picking him up and slamming him against the wall. After staggering back to the First Aid Station and getting patched up, they listed him as a GSW or Gun Shot Wound. Nothing Bill could say changed their minds, and he was sent back to the U.S. Bill was assigned to Camp Pendleton in California where he assisted with the discharge of 400,000 Marines after the war.
He was transferred to Pearl Harbor in 1947 where he met and married his second wife, Myra. He was transferred to Washington DC in 1952 and then to Korea where he served with the 11th Marines Artillery. His daughters were born soon after, Mary in 1956 and Alice in 1958.
He was sent to Okinawa in 1960 but returned home when Myra was diagnosed with cancer. After Myra’s passing, Bill met and married his third wife, Jeanette.
He was promoted to Major in 1963 and then retired from the Marine Corps. in June 1964 after 30 years of active service.