Lenox World War II Veteran Will Take Honor Flight To DC
(First of a two-part article)
By Ben French
(First of a two-part article)
By Ben French
“There were 200 and some Japanese laying there, dead. When it was all over, I was the only one left,” Bill Scott, July, 2009.
On August 11, Bill Scott along with 350 World War II veterans will be taking an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. HyVee has pledged $250,000 to the Honor Flight program so that veterans could see the World War II Memorial.
William (Bill) Nelson Scott will register for the Iowa Honor Flight sometime after 1PM on August 10 at the Airport Holiday Inn, Des Moines, Iowa. Then, after a pre-flight dinner at the HyVee Conference Center that evening, he will set his alarm clock to awaken for a 2:30AM continental breakfast and a 6:30AM Northwest 747 airplane ride to Dulles airport. From there it will on to the World War II Memorial, the Korean, Viet Nam and Iwo Jima memorials and the Arlington National Cemetery. Later, he is scheduled to depart Dulles Airport at 8:30PM to arrive back in Des Moines at 10:30PM.
Two full days for an 89 year old World War II veteran who was said to have nine lives. In his written recollections, Bill writes: John Eason told my wife and I they were considering not to put me into another squad because too many times I was the only survivor.
Bill got his draft notice in 1944 and he went to Bedford to board a bus to Des Moines where he would take his physical examination. “When I got on the bus, I told my parents to be ready for a wedding,” Bill said. Bill wanted to be assigned to the Navy, but a Marine recruiter called out his name. Bill would be a Marine. “The next thing I knew, I was sworn in,” Bill said. “The troop train that took us to San Diego was so old that one train car had a sign that said not to shoot buffalo from the window.”
Bill wrote that the drill instructors were experts in discipline and that they would take the fat off the fat ones and put muscle on the skinny ones. He also talked about the quick haircuts they all received. From 5AM the hours were crowded with drills, classes and training with rifles.
When Bill returned from boot camp, his words to his parents came true as he and Doris Klinzman were married. The newly married couple set up housekeeping in Oceanside, California. Bill was in advanced training at Camp Pendleton where he was trained to be a machine gunner. Their time together was short as Christmas joy turned to farewell. Bill writes that At Christmas we were put on a ship to Guadalcanal. The name of it was Sea Bass and it had 6,000 marines on it. There were 5,999 sick marines on it. What a mess. One day I found a dry place to sit down and read a little. All of a sudden I felt something. A fellow behind me threw up.
After a week or so they arrived in Guadalcanal. Bill was assigned to K Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment of the 6th Division of the Marine Corps.
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, Bill was on a landing craft. He attended a religious service and he had his little Bible that had a steel plate on the cover. They landed on the red beach at Okinawa next to the Yon Tan airfield at 8:30AM. It was an Easter dawn, recalled Bill, that was hailed by the crash of guns of 1,000 ships, the largest war fleet ever to sail with the heavy artillery of battle ships and cruisers. Japanese planes came and 5 of the planes were shot down. Bill relates that he had his rifle safety on and that he was going to leave it on until he saw the enemy shoot at them. “We were crossing the Yon Tan Airfield when a guy was sitting on a tank and there was a shot and he fell. I took my safety off,” Bill said.
K Company was proceeding up a ravine when they encountered Japanese and a brief firefight took place and many of the Japanese were killed. When they had a chance to rest and take off their heavy packs, Bill discovered a bullet had hit his pack. A fellow marine named Wooten told him he was baptized by fire and Bill let loose a few colorful words, but he never repeated those words again.
The World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served in the United States Armed Forces, the more than 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort from home. The memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people.
The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004 and was dedicated on May 29, 2004. The memorial is located in Washington, D.C., on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues. It is flanked by the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nationally recognized newsman, Tom Brokaw has written that “this is the greatest generation any society has produced.”
There will be more on this brave veteran in the next edition of the Lenox Time Table.