After Serving His Country for 3 Decades, Bill Weise Still Wants to “Give Back”
Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 31 years, Bill Weise knows how to take orders. And having attained the rank of Brigadier General, he also knows how to give them.
Now at age 91 and living in a retirement home in Springfield, Virginia, he takes his orders from the Good Book.
“When I was a child, living on a narrow street in Philadelphia during the depth of the Great Depression, my mom would make sandwiches and hand them out to anyone down on their luck and needing a meal,” Bill said.
“We didn’t have much, but whatever we had we shared with others. The Bible tells us to feed the hungry and take care of widows and orphans. That’s what I witnessed growing up and that’s what I try to do now.”
Bill Donates Food to Operation Homefront
Recently Bill purchased nearly $1,000 worth of survival food from 4Patriots. But not for his own personal stockpile.
The food was donated to Operation Homefront and delivered to a number of military families at a medical facility in the Washington, D.C. area. (More on Operation Homefront in a moment.)
Many families caring for injured or ill loved ones are self-quarantining right now due to severe health reasons. Including military families.
Bill’s generous donation will help those families with meals, easing health and safety worries involved with going out to buy food.
Keeping It in Perspective
“It’s not a sacrifice to give of your resources,” Bill said. “It’s an opportunity and a way to serve the Lord and look out for your fellow man.
“In the Marine Corps, we always took care of each other. We never left someone on the battlefield. We filled in for each other.
“Giving to people in need is just a way of life. When I think of our country and the resources we have, I almost feel guilty to have so much.
“It’s important that we remember how fortunate we are compared to people in many other places in the world.”
Working at Age 10
Bill’s father served in the U.S. Army for nine years, including as an infantry soldier during World War I.
He was badly wounded and gassed, but survived and returned to the States. He met the woman who would become Bill’s mom at a dance in Boston. They were married in 1924.
With money being tight, Bill started working at age 10, shining shoes and selling soft pretzels. His first after-school job at age 13 was sweeping floors and running errands for a rug company. Other part-time and summer jobs included driving a taxi, driving a bakery delivery truck and repairing ladies’ handbags.
He also played sports when he found the time. Including on a church league basketball team and a baseball squad.
2 Years Turns Into 31
Bill graduated from high school in 1947 and attended Temple University in Philadelphia on an academic scholarship.
He had planned to be an aeronautical engineer, then switched to journalism and eventually to political science and business in preparation for law school.
Bill could have continued with his student deferment during the Korean War, but instead volunteered to be drafted into the Army for two years before returning to civilian life and law school.
It didn’t quite work out that way. A Marine gunnery sergeant convinced him to volunteer for the Marine Corps. Little did Bill know that he would spend not two but 31 years on active duty.
Serving in Korea and Vietnam
Bill went to boot camp as a private at Parris Island, South Carolina in 1951 and ended up having combat tours in Korea and Vietnam.
In Korea, he served as a 60mm mortar section leader, rifle platoon commander and rifle company executive officer with George Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
In Vietnam, he commanded the “Magnificent Bastards” of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines during some of the heaviest fighting of that conflict in 1967 and 1968.
Bill retired from active duty in 1982 at Parris Island – right where he started – as a Brigadier General.
A Plethora of Awards
Bill was a highly decorated Marine during his 31 years of service. His combat decorations include the following:
- The Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest combat award
- The Silver Star, the nation’s third highest combat award
- Two Legions of Merit (one with combat ‘V’ for valor)
- Three Purple Hearts (for wounds received in combat)
- The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Gold Palm).
In addition, his battalion was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation “For outstanding heroism in action against insurgent communist forces in the Northern I Corps Area, Republic of Vietnam, from 5 March to 31 May, 1968.”
From Student to Teacher
Bill’s peacetime assignments include:
- Rifle Company Commander Fox Company 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
- Force Reconnaissance Company Platoon Commander, Operations Officer, Executive Officer and Inspector-Instructor (1st and 3rd Force Recon Companies, 1960–1965)
- Infantry Regiment Commander (9th Marines, 1975–1976).
He graduated with highest distinction from the Naval War College. Other schools he attended include the Army Ranger School, Army Airborne School and Army Special Warfare Officers School (where he was the honor graduate).
Bill also attended the Navy SCUBA Divers School, Army Command and General Staff College, Marine Corps Basic School, Marine Corps Supply Officers Course, and Marine Corps Boot Camp.
He taught at the Naval War College, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Marine Corps Officers Basic School.
Honoring Other Marines
Bill earned a bachelor of science degree from Temple and a masters degree in business administration from Arizona State University. At ASU, he was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma and Sigma Iota Epsilon honor societies for academic excellence.
He is currently active in a number of veteran and community activities. Bill is a past member of the board of directors of American Heroes First Foundation, which supported wounded veterans and their families.
For five years he co-chaired the Marine Corps Heritage Center Committee, which supported the founding of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He also helped found the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines Association.
Bill has received numerous awards for community service. He spearheaded efforts to honor more than 1,000 Marines and sailors killed in action while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines with memorial bricks at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Leaving a Legacy
During his service while stationed in the States, Bill married Ethel Jaeschke, a childhood friend. They had three children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Ethel passed away at age 65 from cancer, and Bill has not remarried.
When many people reach their 90s, they hand in their car keys. Bill, on the other hand, just bought a new car.
“I enjoy being active,” he said. “And when this pandemic is over, I plan to drive across country to visit family members in Arizona, California, Washington and Oregon. I also want to visit relatives and friends I haven’t seen for years.”
Eventually, Bill will join his wife in Arlington National Cemetery. In the meantime, he’s got a lot of living to do. And the only thing larger than his list of life accomplishments is his generous heart.
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Operation Homefront is a national 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive – not simply struggle to get by – in the communities they have worked so hard to protect. At its core, Operation Homefront serves America’s military families in their time of need because they have served all of us in our nation’s time of need.
Since 2002, thanks to the support of our corporate, foundation and individual donors, Operation Homefront has provided critical financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing, and recurring family support programs and services to tens of thousands of military families each year, so their short-term financial challenges do not become long-term, debilitating issues. Over 90% of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to programs for military families.
4Patriots makes a monthly financial donation to Operation Homefront. Anyone wishing to contribute to Operation Homefront should visit OperationHomefront.org and click on “Ways to Give.”