On his 100th birthday, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy and Air Force Veteran William McDearman, who served during WWII and Korea.
Growing up in Hanby, Texas, William McDearman worked on the farm his family rented from a neighbor. After graduating from high school in 1937 in Abilene, he enlisted in the Navy despite being under age. He first served on the service repair ship USS Medusa. McDearman worked as a cleaner and did odd jobs on the ship, working his way up to fireman first class.
When his four-year contract ended, he returned to Abilene and got a job installing telephone systems for Southwest Electric Company. But after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, McDearman re-enlisted in the Navy. He initially served on another repair ship but later transferred to the battleship USS Indiana. The USS Indiana participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal by providing gunfire support to the American forces on shore. Later, they transported forces to the Gilbert and Marshall islands. The ship was crucial in the island-hopping strategy of the Pacific Theater.
After an accidental collision with the USS Washington, the USS Indiana took part in the Marianas campaign. This included the pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The battleship also assisted in strikes on Palau and the Philippines Islands during the Philippine Campaign in fall 1944. The Indiana participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima, carrier raids on the Japanese mainland and in the invasion of Okinawa. During his time on the Indiana, McDearman promoted to chief motor machinist’s mate.
McDearman remained in the Navy after World War II ended but in 1950, he transferred into the Air Force to be closer to his family. During the Korean War, he trained in missile instruction and served at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas. He taught technical training with the 3320th Technical Training Group and 3340th Technical Training Squadron. He served in this function until 1959 when he retired as a senior master sergeant.
After retiring from the Air Force, McDearman worked for a drilling company driving trucks, welding, and working with a lathe. He also worked in elemental extraction assembling and disassembling nuclear weapons.
He currently resides in Amarillo, Texas and turned 100 April 8.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Barbie Carranza
Fact checker: Giancarlo Gilbert-Igelsrud