William Ralph Wilson

Journalist 1st Class
United States Navy
01 July 1941 - 08 June 1969
Kansas City, Missouri
Panel 23W Line 115

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for William Ralph Wilson

30 Nov 2007

William Ralph Wilson was the best of shipmates. We served together as Navy Journalists during 1962-64 in Taipei, Taiwan, at the main studios of U.S. Armed Forces Radio Taiwan, later to become American Forces Network Taiwan. Bill was a News Editor and Producer. Often we worked the same shift, he in the Newsroom and I behind the mike. During Typhoon Gloria in 1963, we were in the skeleton crew broadcasting on generator power from the third floor of the Sugar Building in downtown Taipei, above flooded city streets. Typhoon Gloria packed 140+ mph winds, and inundated our Headquarters Support Activity Taipei in eight feet of water.

Bill became my first - and later, best - friend when I arrived in Taipei. We shared an apartment for a while, then later each got our own places nearby each other. Bill's place was always a favorite gathering spot for all us young guys from the radio station. On Bill's apartment balcony, we spent long, warm and humid evening and wee-morning hours with iced drinks, talking sports, politics, and swapping sea stories. Bill was an avid reader, every week reading Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and several newspapers. He also always had one or two books going. Two favorites of his at the time were a pair about Africa by Robert Ruark, Something of Value and Uhuru.

During one of these very late balcony sessions, we were called to go downtown and put the radio station on the air (normal broadcast day was 0600 to 2400), President Kennedy had been shot.

Though he had no college training, Bill was an accomplished writer and editor. From his reading and life experience he was so knowledgeable in many fields that errors in fact simply did not occur in material that he wrote, and his grammar and usage were flawless.

Before Bill came to Taiwan, I recall that he had served at Atsugi, Japan, and aboard the cruiser USS BREMERTON on that vessel's final deployment home from WestPac. Bill had great intellectual curiosity and interest about the world. At the end of his first enlistment, he took a rank-dropping discharge in order to travel on his own to the East Coast thinking he would have a better chance for assignment to duty which would take him to Europe. I'm glad the Navy sent him to Taiwan instead. Eventually, he didn't mind postponing his European plan.

Bill said he was born in Roastin' Ear, Arkansas, a town so small - he said - that it disappeared and he had to choose a new Home of Record. He picked Blytheville, Arkansas.

After Taiwan, Bill served in Vietnam, and later became Editor of the public affairs professionals' magazine in the Office of the Chief of Information, in Washington, D.C. During his second Vietnam tour he died in action, while out with a crew working on a film about chaplains serving in Vietnam.

Bill Wilson was a quiet guy, and straightforward. He had no biases of race, religion, or any other discriminatory nature. His word was gold, and he was as good as his word.

From a friend,
Don Hein
Poulsbo, Washington

A Note from The Virtual Wall

3rd Bn, 7th Marines Command Chronology

7th Marines Operations Log

The two entries above explain what happened - the vehicle carrying a MACV Chaplain, the photo team, and their driver and "door gunner" was destroyed by a mine, killing all six men. They were

  • HQ Co, 7th Marines
    • LCpl Roger L. Young, Cocoa, FL, driver
    • Pfc Gale L. Barnes, Marshall, MI, security man

  • HQ, MACV
    • Chaplain (LTC) Don L. Bartley, Rockbridge Baths, VA

  • Photo Team
    • PH1 Robert G. Stricklin, Santa Ana, CA
    • JO1 William R. Wilson, Kansas City, MO
    • PH2 Carl W. Hudgins, Belton, MO

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 30 Nov 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009