“I enlisted, I knew I was going to get drafted,” said Bill Bowling. “So we worked on here at the factory and two of my buddies and I decided to join the Marines.”
Bill was a just young man from Loogootee when he enlisted.
“I’d never been away from home very far and away went to Parris Island and run through training and I didn’t know what i got myself into.”
Like many veterans he has plenty of war stories, but they are hard to talk about.
“I have forgotten and most of it I’ve tried not to talk about it is too is too gory.”
However he did share one.
“We went to go to Nile and Guadalcanal. We landed at daylight on August the 7th 1942 and we made it all right there and we started going in. I look back and our sister ship the Elliot was on fire and it was sinking and I looked back again and I saw it go down and it sunk. Marines were jumping off, and they were waiting to see the ones that survived was wading to shore like we did.”
Bill saw frightening images on the ground and in the sky.
“The Japanese cruisers and battleship was shelling us all the time. We were by the airport and took it and they wanted it back. So they kept shelling and bombing us. They would blow large holes in the ground. Then they would take the old grader they found and leveled the airport back up and finally our planes were able to come in and would dog fight the Japanese planes. We would look up and watch the dog fight. It was amazing. We just we thought well it when you’re up there dog fighting or not shooting it at us.”
Bill served four years with the Marines before returning to his hometown where he married and raised a wonderful family.
Perhaps the discipline that comes from being a military man is what keeps him going now.
“I feel good. I’m doing good. I walk every day for 20 or 30 minutes something like that.
This Veterans Day and those in the year’s to come, Bill Bowling hopes that future generations will take time to reflect, remember and be grateful for those who served America.
“I think they should realize that we wouldn’t be free with it if it wasn’t for the veterans.