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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 Personal Details 

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Year of Birth
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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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
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".
Other Comments:
1st Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
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Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Bougainville
From Month/Year
November / 1943
To Month/Year
January / 1944

After New Georgia, the next major operation was an invasion of the island of Bougainville, which was approached by landings at Mono and Stirling in the Treasury Islands on October 25-27, 1943. A Marine division landed on the west coast of Bougainville at Empress Augusta Bay on November 1, 1943. The Marines were followed within the month by an Army division and replaced in the next month by another Army division.

It was late November before the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay was secure. This beachhead was all that was needed, and no attempt was made to capture the entire island. Allied planes neutralized enemy airfields in the northern part of the island, and the Allied command made use of its naval and air superiority to contain the Japanese garrison on Bougainville and cut its supply line to Rabaul by occupying the Green Islands (February 14, 1944).

Despite these measures, the Japanese maintained pressure against the beachhead, mounting an especially heavy but unsuccessful counterattack as late as March 1944. Success at Bougainville isolated all Japanese forces left in the Solomons. The Japanese sustained comparatively heavy air and naval losses during the campaign, which further crippled the Japanese Combined Fleet and had a vital effect on the balance of naval power in the Central Pacific.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
November / 1943
To Month/Year
January / 1944
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
Units Participated in Operation

4th Marine Regiment

1st Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (1/21)


3rd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4), 4th Marine Regiment

3rd Bn, 9th Marine Regiment (3/9)

1st Parachute Bn, 1st Parachute Regiment


3rd Combat Engineer Bn


2nd Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (2/21)

21st Marine Regiment

3rd Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (3/21)

2nd Bn, 12th Marine Regiment (2/12)

3rd Amtrac Bn


1st Parachute Regiment

3rd Marine Division

My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  650 Also There at This Battle:
  • Alexander, Elbert Bernard, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Alford, Major Fitzhugh, 1stLt, (1943-1944)
  • Alford, Thomas Carl, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Allen, Ezekiel Curry, TSgt, (1942-1944)
  • Allen, Matthew Churchill, 1stLt, (1942-1943)
  • Allen, Samuel Gammon, Sgt, (1942-1944)
  • Anderson, Norman Ira, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Andrews, Marion, Capt, (1942-1962)
  • Assante, Edward, Cpl, (1942-1945)
  • Assante, Edward, Cpl, (1942-1945)
  • Bahe, Henry Jr, Cpl, (1942-1946)
  • Bailey, William Upson, PFC, (1942-1943)
  • Bakewell, Charles Henry, PFC, (1943-1944)
  • Ballman, Francis Lawrence, Sgt, (1942-1943)
  • Barker, Donald Elmer, SSgt, (1942-1943)
  • Bartlett, Dewey Follett, Capt, (1942-1953)
  • Beard, Walter Abner, PFC, (1942-1943)
  • Beauchamp, Walter Alfred, Cpl, (1942-1944)
  • Beck, Donald, Col, (1941-1968)
  • Begay, Ned, PFC, (1943-1945)
  • Behnisch, Lester Charles, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Bibee, Leonard Earl, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Birchfield, Joseph Adam, PFC, (1941-1943)
  • Blakeslee, Wilbur Howard, 1stLt, (1938-1943)
  • Boehm, Sr., Harold, Col, (1939-1965)
  • Bower, Carl Franklin, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Boyd, William Clay, SSgt, (1941-1945)
  • Brice, William, Gen, (1917-1956)
  • Brom, Cyril, Cpl, (1942-1946)
  • Brown, Arnold W, SSgt, (1942-1945)
  • Brown, Edward Taggart, 1stLt, (1942-1943)
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