Bestwick, Wilbur, SgtMajMC

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Last Rank
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Last Primary MOS
9991-Sergeant Major of The Marine Corps
Last MOSGroup
Specific Billet MOS
Primary Unit
1957-1959, 9991, Office of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Commandant Marine Corps (HQMC)
Service Years
1934 - 1959

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by GySgt Michael Snell (Big Sky) to remember Marine SgtMajMC Wilbur Bestwick (1st SgtMajMC).

If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Jul 10, 1972
Location of Interment
Skylawn Memorial Park - San Mateo, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Sergeant Major Wilbur Bestwick, the first Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, died 10 July 1972, at the Stanford University Hospital, San Francisco, California. He was interred at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California.

Sergeant Major Bestwick was born on 27 November 1911, in Sabetha, Kansas, and graduated from high school there in 1932. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1934 and received his basic training at San Diego, California.

The Sergeant Major saw pre-World War II duty at sea aboard the USS Louisville, and served at Marine posts in Bremerton, Washington; San Diego, and Camp Elliott, California. Appointed a Sergeant Major in 1943, he saw World War II combat while serving in this capacity with the 3rd Marine Division in the Bougainville and Guam campaigns.

On his return to the States, in December 1944, Sergeant Major Bestwick served as Sergeant Major of the Mare Island (California) Shipyard. He was transferred to San Francisco in 1945, and completed a four-year tour of duty there as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Depot of Supplies. In 1949, he became Sergeant Major of the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

During the Korean conflict, he joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea in October 1952 as Division Sergeant Major, and after a year overseas returned to the States. For excellent service in Korea he was awarded the Navy Commendation Ribbon with Combat "V". In 1954, he began a two-year assignment as Sergeant Major, Inspector and Instructor Staff, 1st Air Delivery Company, San Jose, California.

Transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., in June 1956, Sergeant Major Bestwick served as Sergeant Major to the Secretary of the General Staff until 23 May 1957, when he assumed the newly-established post of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. He served in this capacity until he retired from active duty on September 1, 1959.

His personal decorations include the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V".
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1st Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
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  1943-1944, 9999, 3rd Marine Division

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- / 1944
3rd Marine Division Unit Page
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9999-Sergeant Major/First Sergeant
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 3rd Marine Division Details

3rd Marine Division
The primary mission of the 3d Marine Division is to execute amphibious assault operations and other such operations as may be directed. The Division is supported by Marine aviation, and force service support units and is prepared to be employed, as an integral part of a Marine Expeditionary Force in amphibious operations.
The Division is divided into the Third Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, HI, the Twelfth Marine Regiment located at Camp Hansen, and the Fourth Marine Regiment at Camp Schwab. In addition, we are further broken down into a Headquarters Battalion on Camp Courtney, and a Force Recon Battalion located at Camp Schwab. The Division includes elements forward deployed under the Unit Deployment Program (UDP), reporting aboard for six month rotational training cycles.
The 3d Marine Division officially activated 16 September 1942 at Camp Elliott, San Diego, California. It was built around the 9th Marines, commanded by Colonel Lemuel C. SHEPHERD, Jr. who later became the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Major General Charles D. BARRETT was the first Commanding General of the Division. By August 1943 the Division was stationed on Guadalcanal where special training and rehearsals for the Bougainville operation were intensified. On 1 November 1943 the Division landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. For approximately two months, the Division participated in the fight against stiff and heavy enemy resistance. On 16 January 1944, with the transfer of command in the area to the Army's XIV Corps, the last elements of the Division returned to Guadalcanal.
Following the Bougainville operation the Division began training for the next campaign. Verbal instructions received in February 1944 led to planning for an operation against the Japanese on Emirau Island. The projected Emirau operation was subsequently cancelled and instructions were received to initiate planning for an operation against enemy forces at Kavieng, New Ireland. This operation was also called off. A few days later, the Division received word to start training for the amphibious assault against the Japanese on Guam, Marianas.
The Division embarked at Guadalcanal on 2 and 3 June 1944 and sailed for Kwajalein, Marshall Islands enroute to the Marianas. It remained afloat off Saipan from 15 to 28 June 1944 as part of the reserve force for the Saipan operation, then being carried out by the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions in conjunction with the 27th Infantry Division. With the situation on Saipan well controlled the Division returned to its restaging area awaiting the target date for the Guam operation.
On 21 July 1944, as a part of the Southern Troops and Landing Force, the Division landed on western beaches of Guam in the vicinity of Asan Point. After twenty days of savage fighting, the Division troops reached the northern coast of the island. On 10 August 1944 Guam was declared secure. Until its departure for the Iwo Jima campaign in the middle of February 1945, the Division remained on Guam taking part in the mopping up operations.
Initially, the Division remained afloat off Iwo Jima as Expeditionary Troops Reserve. The Division landed on 24 February, and the next morning the 3d Marine Division launched an attack in its zone between the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. The 3d Marine Division faced well-organized and determined enemy resistance. The terrain, ideal for defense, was heavily fortified by pillboxes, caves, and covered artillery emplacements. Progress was slow and casualties heavy during the first few days of fighting. The Division slowly pushed the enemy back and by 3 March had severed the last enemy east-west artery of communication by occupying positions overlooking the sea. The 3d Marine Division secured its zone of action on 11 March and then initiated intensive patrolling and mopping-up operations. On 16 March, units of the 3d Marine Division relieved elements of the 5th Division and delivered the final attack of the Iwo Jima operation - a drive to Kitano Point. Iwo Jima was declared secure on the same day. On 4 April the 3d Marine Division was relieved by Army units.
By mid-April 1945, the Division was back on Guam preparing for the next operation. On 3 August 1945 the Division received initial plans for the "Olympic" operation which called for an amphibious landing of Kyushu about 1 November 1945. The 3d Marine Division, along with the 2nd and 5th Marine Divisions, was assigned to the V Amphibious Corps for the projected operation. Japan's agreement to cease hostilities and subsequent surrender cancelled "Olympic", and the Division remained on Guam until the date of its disbandment on 28 December 1945.
The Division was reactivated on 7 January 1952 at Camp Pendleton, California. Immediately after its activation and still in its organizational state, the Division began intensive combat training, including new tactics and maneuvers based on lessons learned in Korean War. During the remaining part of 1952 elements of the Division participated in numerous exercises and training problems, including vertical envelopment (helicopter landing), air-borne operations and attack, and defense against atomic weapons and missiles.
In August 1953 the Division arrived in Japan to support the 1st Marine Division in the defense of the Far Eastern area. In March 1956 the Division moved to Okinawa and remained there in a readiness posture until 1965.
On 6 May 1965, the 3d Marine Division opened the Marine Compound at the Danang Air Base, Vietnam. The Division operated in Vietnam from this time participating in operations from Danang to Phi Bai to Quang Tri/Dong Ha Combat Base. The Division departed Vietnam in November 1969 and moved to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, where it is presently located.

From 2004 to 2011, elements of the 3d Marine Division participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  From March to May 2011 the Division participated in humanitarian relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi.  From 2004 to present the Division remains successful fulfilling its mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and theater security cooperation exercises in the Pacific region.  The Division continues to operate in an increasingly challenging and dynamic landscape and will be prepared to fight and win, tonight.
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Last Updated: Jun 18, 2009
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104 Members Also There at Same Time
3rd Marine Division

Barrett, Charles D., MGen, (1909-1943) 99 9903 Major General
Cauldwell, Oscar Ray, MGen, (1912-1946) 99 9903 Brigadier General
Turnage, Allen H, Gen, (1913-1948) 8003 Major General
McHenry, George Wilbure, BGen, (1916-1945) 3 Colonel
Bethel, Ion M., MGen, (1925-1958) 30 3010 Lieutenant Colonel
Boehm, Sr., Harold, Col, (1939-1965) 3 0302 Lieutenant Colonel
Van Orden, Dr. George Owen, BGen, (1925-1949) 3 0302 Lieutenant Colonel
ENGLISH, Lowell, MGen, (1938-1969) 3 0302 Captain
English, Lowell Edward, MGen, (1938-1969) 3 0302 Captain
Fagan, Francis, Capt, (1941-1945) 3 0302 Captain
Shoemaker, William Grover, Capt, (1942-1944) 3 0302 Captain
Greenstone, John, LtCol, (1939-1975) 3 0302 First Lieutenant
Vivian, Arthur C., 1stLt, (1942-1944) 3 0302 First Lieutenant
Benenati Jr, Joseph, 1stLt, (1942-1944) 8 0802 Second Lieutenant
Greenstone, John, LtCol, (1939-1975) 3 0302 Second Lieutenant
Grossi, Dominick J., 2ndLt, (1944-1945) 3 0302 Second Lieutenant
Martin, David W., 2ndLt, (1944-1945) 3 0302 Second Lieutenant
Kane, George Joseph, GySgt, (1928-1944) 3 0369 Gunnery Sergeant
Emerson, Paul, SSgt, (1942-1945) 1 0161 Staff Sergeant
Armstrong, Phil, Sgt, (1942-1946) 3 0331 Sergeant
Cahill, John, Sgt, (1935-1943) 3 0311 Sergeant
Gambirazio, Fernando, MSgt, (1978-2003) 1 0151 Sergeant
Marshall, Larry, Sgt, (1937-1944) OF 745 Sergeant
Martin, Billy, Sgt, (1943-1945) 3 0311 Sergeant
O'Brien, Cyril John, Capt, (1942-1962) 43 4341 Sergeant
Amey, Milton Morton, Cpl, (1943-1946) OF 911 Corporal
Bradford, Thomas, SgtMaj, (1942-1969) 3 0341 Corporal
Edwards, George Albert, 1stSgt, (1942-1952) OF Corporal
Engler, David, Cpl, (1942-1946) 6 0621 Corporal
Jackson, Howard, Cpl, (1942-1945) 3 0369 Corporal
Jones, Tom H, Cpl, (1943-1945) OF 642 Corporal
Milligan, Wilburn Gene, Cpl, (1942-1945) OF 521 Corporal
Palmer, Joe, Cpl, (1942-1946) OF 642 Corporal
Sadowski, Chester Joseph, Sgt, (1942-1947) 3 0351 Corporal
Schlager, Alexander, Cpl, (1942-1946) 3 0317 Corporal
Sheppard, Orval, SSgt, (1942-1963) 1 0121 Corporal
Silverman, Albert, Pvt, (1941-1945) OF Corporal
Towne, Joseph H., Cpl, (1942-1945) OF 642 Corporal
White, James, Cpl, (1943-1946) 521 Corporal
Wilson, Lee, Cpl, (1943-1946) 3 0335 Corporal
Ayze, Lewis Franklin, PFC, (1943-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Becenti, Ned D, Cpl, (1942-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Brown, Cosey Stanley, PFC, (1942-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Clah, Stewart, PFC, (1940-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Cleveland, Benjamin H, PFC, (1942-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Crawford, Eugene Roanhorse Sr, PFC, (1942-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Curley, David, PFC, (1942-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Dangler, Harold, PFC, (1942-1945) 3 0311 Private 1st Class
Day, Donald, PFC, (1943-1945) 3 0311 Private 1st Class
Dunlap, Albert Howard, SSgt, (1941-1951) 8 0800 Private 1st Class
Foghorn, Roy R, PFC, (1943-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Freel, Billy Bob, PFC, (1944-1945) 3 0311 Private 1st Class
Goodluck, John V, PFC, (1943-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Goodman, Billie, Sr, PFC, (1943-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Henry, Albert, PFC, (1943-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Holmes, Don, Cpl, (1943-1946) 8 0800 Private 1st Class
Johnson, Peter, PFC, (1944-1945) OF 642 Private 1st Class
Johnstone, Robert Brooks, Pvt, (1942-1944) OF 607 Private 1st Class
Miller, Edward, PFC, (1941-1944) 3 0300 Private 1st Class

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