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Bill Storm, providing communication and support to fellow Marines

The oldest of our nation’s veterans are now those who served in World War II, either in the European Theater, Pacific Theater, or stateside, preparing to join their fellow soldiers abroad.

SUN staff is in the process of sitting down with some of our community’s WWII veterans to hear their stories, memories, lessons and more.

According to William “Bill” Storm III, his 30 years in the U.S. Marines were nothing special.

But the service of Storm, and of others like him, was vital to the U.S. military and war efforts.

Storm worked behind the scenes to support Marine forces during World War II, as well as during the Korean and Vietnam wars, serving primarily in the supply, logistics and communications fields.

“There’s nothing romantic about it, other than the fact that you supported the Fleet Marine Force,” Storm says.

Storm, now 88, voluntarily joined the Marines in April 1942, at age 19, after completing two years of college. He grew up in San Antonio.

With nine years in military school under his belt giving him an idea of what military life would be like, Storm decided the Marines were the facet of the military best suited for him.

“Marines seemed to be the kind of military life I would like,” Storm says.

Storm’s original hope was to become a naval aviator, but a college degree was required, and he had only completed two years.

With those hopes set aside, after enlisting, Storm completed Basic Training in San Diego and was sent to Sea School.

Upon the completion of Sea School, Storm was assigned to the U.S.S. Colorado, where he served for about a year and a half as a Private First Class.

Though only a PFC, it was decided that, with his amount of college experience, Storm should be an officer, so Storm was sent back on land to prepare for the Naval Academy.

That, like the naval aviator hope, was dashed, this time because Storm didn’t fit the age requirements to attend the Naval Academy.

In lieu of the Naval Academy, Storm was sent to a college degree training program (V-12), receiving broad training to become an officer.

Storm emerged from that program in May 1945, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.

By the time Storm was commissioned as an officer, WWII was drawing to an end, but occupation forces were still in Japan.

Storm was sent to Kagashoma, Kyushu, Japan, for roughly a year to serve as a supply officer and logistics officer, as well as serving in many other roles — all of which played into the safety of American troops.

While he may not have served in the more famous wartime roles in Japan, Storm was responsible for ensuring the troops had the ammunition, food, transportation and clothing to carry out their jobs on the front lines of the war.

“It’s just a job that has to be done,” Storm says.

Storm says contact with the Japanese citizens sometimes proved interesting, such as the time occupation forces established a road system, complete with signage.

After the road system was complete, a Japanese delegation that communicated with the occupation forces came forward with concerns over the posted speed limits of 25 and 35 mph on the road.

Their concern was not that they wanted to go faster, however, but that they wanted the speed limits reduced to 15 and 20 mph — speeds their vehicles were capable of reaching.

Storm said the variety of jobs helped keep his time in Japan from becoming boring.

After a year in Japan, the Marines were ordered back to the U.S., and Storm was sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as a batallion supply officer for a year.

After that, it was time for more training, and off to Parris Island, S.C., Storm went.

While at Parris Island, Storm served as battalion officer for about six months and was assigned to be provo marshal and fire marshal.

It was also at Parris Island that Storm decided he wanted a career change and thus applied for and was allowed to attend school to be a communications officer.

From there, Storm served aboard an amphibious command ship, the U.S.S. Mount Olympus.

Aboard that ship, Storm traveled to places such as Cuba; Caracas, Venezuela; the east coast; and to the Mediterranean, where the predecessor of NATO established a headquarters.

On the U.S.S. Mount Olympus, Storm worked as a radio and crypto officer, working to code and decode messages.

After four months in the Mediterranean, Storm returned to Norfolk, Va., for six weeks before being sent to war a second time — this time in Korea.

Storm served on the west coast of what is now South Korea for a year, working as a communication officer for an amphibious assault batallion.

Also during his time in Korea, because of his status as a communicator, Storm was assigned to duty as a first division message setter boss, with responsibilities including the oversight of the communications division.

Following Korea, Storm was ordered to Pearl Harbor, where he became a message setter for the Fleet Marine Force for two years.

From there, Storm jaunted back across the U.S. to serve as communications officer for the 1st Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune.

With the vast amount of communications experience under his belt, Storm then went from being the trainee to the trainer, teaching at an officer communications school in Virginia.

By that time, Storm had been promoted to major, but realized that, if he were going to be promoted again, he would have to have a college degree.

So, Storm enrolled in night classes at George Washington University after arriving at Quantico, spending the next six years obtaining a degree in business administration and accounting, graduating in 1961.

At that time, Storm worked at the headquarters of the Marine Corps before being sent to Okinawa to serve as a force supply officer.

After about nine months in Okinawa, Storm was sent back to the Marine Corps headquarters to work in the supply department, doing various jobs and working with the Department of Defense.

From there, Storm was assigned to work under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

After that, the U.S. became involved in another conflict, this time in Vietnam.

During Vietnam, Storm partook in the Vietnam Support Expediting Taskforce under McNamara, a taskforce that compromises a brigadier general, Navy captain, Army colonel, Air Force colonel and a lieutenant colonel (Storm).

The group worked to see that troops and units were adequately supplied.

Then Storm was off to war for the third time, this time with the 4th Service Regiment.

For a year, Storm worked to support the 1st Marine Division and 1st Air Wing behind the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that divided the north and south Vietnamese territories.

After Vietnam, Storm was rotated back to the Barstow base in California to serve in the supply department.

In 1972, Storm retired with 30 years, three months and 18 days of service in the Marine Corps to his name and went into business with his father and brother until 1981, when he again retired, this time moving to Pagosa Springs — the place he still calls home.

Looking back, Storm said no job stands out as a favorite, though his communications work was enjoyable because he was able to learn a lot and know what was going on, and that supply and logistics jobs could be “boring.”

“Nobody ever threw eggs at me,” Storm says of how he feels his job helped. “I think that the fact that I was finally promoted to a colonel was indicative of the fact that I had done a good job.”

Storm recounts the distance from his family as the hardest part of his time in the Marines.

“I was not able to see my children grow up, of which I have five. I could not go to the proms they went to when they were going to high school. I had to depend on my first wife to see about their well-being, which she did,” Storm says, adding, “Being away from a home atmosphere is not pleasant at times.”

Storm married his first wife in 1945 and was divorced in 1963. He remarried in 1968.

Storm said his distance from the front lines didn’t make the distance from his family any easier, though it likely was easier on his family to know he was away from the danger.

Among the high points of his service was Storm’s opportunity to travel the world.

Storm says he traveled as far as Bangkok and Okinawa, to Cuba, the Mediterranean Sea, Venezuela and Greenland, all aboard a ship.

So how did the 30 years change Storm?

“I don’t think it changed me a bit because I was doing the job I was taught to do and there was enough variety to keep it from being boring,” Storm says.

If you are a WWII veteran with stories to share, please contact Randi Pierce at 264-2100 or randi@pagosasun.com.

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