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My father was a WWII veteran. He served aboard LST 751 in the pacific. When he came home from the war, he had a problem with shortness of breath. This didn’t seem to bother him at first, but things got worse. My mother tried to get him to go to the doctor but no go. She took matters into her own hands and brought the doctor to him. He was diagnosed with Tuberculous. It was determined that he had to have contacted the disease while in the pacific. Which made it service connected and should qualify him for disability. Our family had a friend who worked for the VA, so mom made an appointment with him. His name was Bill Ward. Dad, with the help from Bill, filled out all the paper work. Supplied all of the doctor’s reports that supported my dad’s claim, and it was sent in. Bill explained that it would take about a month to here back. Not so with dad. He received a reply within two weeks. He had been denied. The application was resubmitted and the same answer, denied. Bill resubmitted the application, but this time ask for help from another rep. His name was Hershel Woodrow “Woody “Williams, Medal of Honor winner, United States Marine Corps, Iwo, Jima. Mr. Williams made sure dads application got into the right hands and not some bureaucrat. It was approved. My father passed away in November 1957, he was 47 years old. I was 16 when he died. Dad never naught me very much, not because he didn’t want to but because of his illness he wasn’t able. One time he did teach me a valuable lesson. Dad had some friends over for dinner. They were old Navy veterans from the war. They were having an argument about a sea battle in the pacific. That neither one of them was in, but my dad’s ship was. He tried to tell them they were wrong, but to no avail. He looked over at me and said. Son this is why “You Never Bandy Words With Idiots”. I’ve never forgotten that. This little bit of wisdom has taught me to keep my big mouth shut in similar circumstance.
In November 1962, I was released from active duty in the Marine Corps. I, of course went home and for the first few months I did very little. I worked construction, pumped gas in a filling station and even applied to the U.S. Border Patrol. One of the requirements was that you speak Spanish. Speak Spanish! Hell, I barely could speak English. I was told to learn Spanish and reapply. Ok, you bet.
On a trip to visit family in West Virginia, a relative ask me why I didn’t go to college? Me go to college, are you nuts. That was the craziest thing I ever heard. Her comment was, why not, you sure as hell aren’t doing anything now. By the way she said, the government will pay for you to go to school. I decided, why not, I’ll give it a try. I went to the administration office of Marshall University. I was given the application and I filled it out. In 1960, while with M-4-12 3rd. Marine Division, I took the GED test and received my high school equivalency certificate. The school accepted my GED but needed to retake part of the test. I had to take the English and Literature part. The test was going to be given the next day at one of the local high schools. This all had to be approved by the VA before I could take the test. You bet. I knew the odds on this happening were slim and none. Off I went, application and all the other paper work I needed. I gave all information to VA rep. and his reaction was just what I expected. He told me that this would take a couple of weeks and even then, I may not get it approved. I was then told to give him a call in a week or two. I was walking out the door and an older gentleman was coming in. He said how is everything going. I told him not so good. He asks what the problem was, and I explained as much as I could. He said, come with me. We walked back to the disk of the rep. I was talking to. He handed him my paper work and said get this handled today and I mean today. I was told to come back later in the afternoon. Later that afternoon, as I walked back into the office, needless to say I expected just the opposite of what happened. My application was approved. You’ve got to be kidding. I said thank you. He said don’t thank me, thank Woody Williams. That’s right Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor Winner United States Marine Corps, Iwo, Jima. The same Woody Williams that helped my father almost twenty years before. I walked over to Mr. Williams and said, Simper Fi and thank you. In reply, he said just what you’d expect him to say. Do or Die and good luck Marine.
Woody Williams is 96 years old and doing strong.