U.S. Marine Corps 1939–1945
With 20 of his classmates, Bill Eckerson wanted to enlist in the Marines right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but was sent back to Colgate College. After graduation in 1943, he was called up and sent to Parris Island for Officer Candidate School. As a platoon leader with Fox Company, Second Battalion, 26th Marines, Eckerson was sent to Iwo Jima to help secure Mt. Suribachi. On his third day there he witnessed the raising of the flag, but his company suffered the deaths of four of its seven officers. In a foxhole with his corpsman, Eckerson was wounded and his corpsman killed. His story is told with candor and eloquence. As a commissioned officer, he was again called up during the Korean Conflict and speaks of his mixed feelings in deciding to resign his commission.