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William Pendergrass Freeman
William Pendergrass Bill Freeman, retired Sergeant Major, US Marine Corps, died 24 April, 2013 at the age of 90, at his home in Pembroke, Giles County, VA., after a respiratory illness. He was the second of four children born to George Parrish and Eula Jo Freeman in Savannah, GA. On the 13th of August 1940, Bill Joined the Marine Corps at age 17. His parents reluctantly agreed after he threatened to go to Canada and join the RCAF. He served in Iceland prior to the US entry to WWII. The cold and the WWII-issued equipment were memorable. After entry into WWII with the 1st Marine Division, Bill fought on Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Cape Gloucester, and Pavuvu. He received a citation from the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, recognizing the landing assaults on Guadalcanal 7-9 August 1942. When he returned home in 1945, Bill remained in the Marine Reserves, married his wartime sweetheart, Rosemary, and they had two girls, Billie Jo and Georgia. The Korean War brought Bill back to active duty in 1950 where he served north of Seoul. After returning from Korea, Bill was stationed at the Opa-locks Naval Air Station in Florida on security duty until 1953. He then served as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, SC until 1955. In 1955, Bill served with the Inspector-Instructor Staff, 3rd Engineer Company, in Youngstown, Ohio. Camp Lejeune, NC was his next duty station where he served in the training division from 1958-1960. Between 1960-1964, Bill was assigned to HqCo, H&SBn, FMFlant, Norfolk, VA. In 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis, he was aboard a destroyer providing escort service. In 1964, Bill was assigned to Quonset Point, RI air station where he served aboard the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain. In 1965, Bill earned the rank of Sgt Maj, and was assigned to the Quantico, VA Marine Corps Schools where he trained a battalion. Before retirement, Bill was assigned to the American Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany as Sgt Maj in charge of Marine security guard detachments in Europe. He retired after returning from this assignment in 1967 with 26 years of service. Bill taught at a vocational school after retirement and not surprisingly recruited several students for the Marine Corp. He was awarded: National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal w/1 silver star, Korean Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation w/2 bronze stars, American Defense Service Medal w/1 bronze star, European African Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/1 silver and 1 bronze star, Victory Medal WWII, Rifle Sharpshooter Badge, Pistol Expert Badge. In 1978, Bill moved from his farm in Loudoun County, VA to Giles County with his late wife Rosemary to raise cattle and grow apples on Doe Creek Farm in Pembroke. Bill served on the Giles County Board or Supervisors from 1996-1999 and was Chairman of the Board in 1996. He was the first board chairman for Virginias First Regional Industrial Development Authority. Bill was elected to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board in 1992 and spent 12 years representing farmers in Bland, Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and Wythe counties. During his tenure on the board, he was a strong advocate for farmers in Southwest Virginia, and also lobbied Congress to change the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regulations to help farmer veterans receive free heath care. He was the recipient of the VFBF Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau Award in 2005. Bill leaves behind his daughters Billie Jo Bevers of Woodland, WA, and Georgia Haverty of Pembroke, VA; grandchildren Eric Schenkel, Timothy Bevers, Allison Hollopter and their families; his sister Jo Oliver and brother John Bickle, and numerous nieces and nephews. A graveside service with military honors will be held on Friday 17 May at 1:30 PM at Quantico National Cemetery, Triangle, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carilion Clinic Hospice, New River Valley, 701 Randolph Street, Suite 110, Radford, VA 24141.
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