Sea Foam: Honoring the 'Greatest Generation'

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comNovember 21, 2011 

Thanks to Don Ross of Hilton Head Island for sharing his thoughts from Veterans Day.

Don writes:

"They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines."

-- From "The Marines' Hymn"

Many thanks to all of the people who put together a fine tribute on Hilton Head Island to our military on Veterans Day.

As the keynote speaker, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Larry D. Nicholson paid homage to the "Greatest Generation." I couldn't help but think of two former Marines who exemplified that generation: the late Bill Byers and Stan Bishop.

It was my privilege to know these men who were similar in many respects.

They were intelligent, articulate, honorable and self-assured. They felt it their responsibility to serve their country and did it without a second thought.

When the war was over, they expected nothing more than a simple thanks and moved on with their lives.

Bill served on Guadalcanal, and Stan was a "China Marine." I met Bill and Stan on the tennis courts of Spring Lake 18 years ago. Both were personable, soft spoken and gentlemen as they beat the pants off my partner and I.

A few years later, I invited them to join me at Parris Island on the Marine Corps' birthday. When I arrived to pick them up, they were wearing blazers, trousers with razor-edge creases and highly shined shoes. In their generation, you dressed out of respect for the place you were going to visit.

At the Parris Island Museum, Stan found pictures of his platoon, and when Bill had a question concerning the location of his barracks, a young Marine told him she would find the answer.

She returned in five minutes with the curator, who invited us to his office. The curator hosted Stan and Bill for about 30 minutes, asking and answering questions.

We then walked to the old building that was the barracks where Bill bunked in the early 1940s while going through boot camp. On the way, a drill instructor halted his platoon and came over to say hello. He treated Bill and Stan with great reverence and after a short discussion, took a step back, and fired off a salute to these two former Marines of World War II, which I shall always remember.

It was a great day. One where we paid homage to two former Marines that epitomized the "Greatest Generation." Bob, Stan, I am honored in having known you.

Many thanks, and Semper Fi.

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