Marine Corps veteran honored at state capitol

Judy Allen

William Logan Jr., a Choctaw veteran of World War II, is honored as Veteran of the Week at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Also pictured at the event are Logan’s daughter, Sally Logan, Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., and State Rep. Lundy Kiger.

Photo provided

Former Marine William F. “Bill” Logan Jr. was honored as Veteran of the Week April 22 at the Oklahoma State Capitol, presented with a folded flag, citation and standing ovation as his battle biography was read by State Rep. Lundy Kiger of District 3.

Logan took the podium and led the room in a heartfelt Pledge of Allegiance, then thanked everyone for the honor. “It is my first trip to the Capitol,” he said. It was a trip to add to his memory books.

“I was 18 when I left for the War, and almost 21 when I was discharged,” said Logan. He was born and raised in Albion, Oklahoma, and had gone to Portland, Oregon, to work in the shipyards. A draft letter had been sent to his home in Albion, and his dad forwarded the letter to Logan, leading to his visit to the draft board in Portland. 

When he arrived at the board office, “A bird colonel asked me what branch of the military I wanted to be in, and I said I didn’t know, maybe the Navy. The colonel said, ‘Son, you’re in the Marine Corps’!” His enlistment papers were signed Oct. 11, 1943.

“I was asked if I needed a week to take care of business before I shipped out. At age 18, I didn’t have any business, so I told them, ‘I guess I can go ahead and go now.’

“Travel from Portland to San Diego was by train. Then I was sent to Pearl Harbor, where I was part of the 22nd Marine Unit that served in the Pacific.”

The first invasion Logan participated in began at Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, Feb. 19-26, 1944. 

The next major battle against the enemy for Logan was the Guam Marianas Islands July 21, 1944, through Aug. 22, 1944. After Guam, the 29th Marine Regiment was brought in to form the 6th Marine Division. Logan’s 22nd Marine Division and the 4th Marine Division had already combined when getting ready to invade Guam, so now all three made up the 6th Division, training at Guadalcanal as a full division with all the necessary artillery including Howitzers.

Logan said as they trained, the Marines tried to guess where they would be sent next. The well-trained 6th Marines were sent to Okinawa, which may have been the decisive campaign of the Pacific. The beach landing was by Amtrak boats. After hitting the beach, the soldiers ran as fast as they could into the hills. They went up through the mountains until they reached the Moto Peninsula. Halfway up, an enemy Japanese soldier on a ridge shot at them with a light machine gun called a “Nambu.”

“One of the lieutenants was shot on the right side of his lip, and it tore open his mouth all the way back to the gums. You could see his teeth and gums on one side. The lieutenant in charge of the machine gun unit asked where the shots had come from. I pointed up, and the lieutenant opened up on the Japanese. 

“I asked Fay if he wanted to go get some more ammunition. We grabbed some ammunition bags and started back and got about halfway and the Nambu cut loose. Fay got shot in the stomach, and I got shot in the leg. We were about 200 yards to cover at the little ridge. Fay said, ‘Let’s just lay still’.

“Finally, I jumped up and ran, and I hit the ground just before I got around the ridge. I could see a Corpsman helping a guy who had been shot in the rear, and then the Corpsman got shot in the rear,” said Logan. “When I got my mind clear, I got up and ran around the ridge where the rest of the company was.”

He continued, “There was a sergeant looking from a foxhole with field glasses and a sniper shot him in the Adam’s apple and he was instantly dead. I dived over into the foxhole. They put sulfur powder where I was shot, and I took sulfur tablets. We didn’t have anything else back then. They just kept Vaseline bandages on the wound the whole time to let it heal.”

After about three weeks, Logan was out of the hospital, put on an old C-47 plane, and headed back to combat. These were old cargo planes. He and a couple of other guys used boxes of hand grenades as seats when they flew back to Guam. They were outfitted with new helmets, rifles and a new pack, then shipped back to Okinawa just in time to help take Sugar Loaf Hill.

“It rained for two weeks straight,” said Logan. “We even slept in water, just being sure to keep our head out of the water.” The miseries of Sugar Loaf Hill continued. Staying wet caused sores on his legs, then when it finally stopped raining, the humidity and heat were unbearable. The Japanese were holed up in caves, and the Marines began to take the enemy prisoner. Some of the Japanese would rather be killed or commit suicide than be taken prisoner.

After Okinawa had been secured, an official ceremony was held in Tsing Tsao to receive the surrender of the Japanese forces in the area. Logan was present at the ceremony. General Shepherd, a Japanese general and all the military officers came to a racetrack fixed up as a ‘parade ground.’ They pulled out their sabers and put them on a long table. The Japanese general took his pistol and saber and laid them on the table. Then, official papers were signed.

While serving in the military, Logan was cited for Excellent Character of Service, awarded a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal and Honorary Service Button. 

Once Logan was home in Albion, he said a local young lady, Estella Miller, who had been supporting the war effort by working at Tinker Air Field, agreed to marry him. They were married 72 years before she passed in 2018.

When he was discharged, his salary was $54 a month while in the service, and he was given a monthly stipend of $20 for 52 weeks while he was looking for a permanent job. After he and Estella were married, he went to Portland to work in the lumber business, and as soon as he had enough money saved, he sent for her. “We spent years in the log woods in that big timber,” said Logan. The couple had three children, two girls and a boy.

Logan advises young people to plan ahead. “If you go to work and get a good job, and want to get ahead – if you invest 10% of your money, you will have quite a bit to retire on.”

When asked what the biggest change he had seen in the world during his lifetime, he immediately responded, “Cell phones! Younger kids can take a cell phone and find out anything! You can even talk to a cell phone and find out anything.”

Logan is surrounded by photos and books in his home that are reminders of the history of his life. One photo is of him and three friends.

“We left for war together, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and returned about two years later together, coming back home under that same bridge,” said Logan. “We all made it through the war. That picture is of us celebrating the night we got back. I am the only one left now.”

A photo of four World War II heroes. One of them Choctaw. Thankfully our Choctaw World War II hero survives to share his story and photos.

Biskinik June 2019