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"When I joined the Marine Corps in 1943 the guys that were already there were teasing us - they were saying 'you’ll be sorry!' All I can say to you guys going in today is 'you’ll be sorry!'" (Video interview, 11:10)

   Wilfred E. Billey
Collection image
Wilfred Billey at time of interview
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 297th Platoon; Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division
Service Location: Tarawa Atoll (Gilbert Islands); Saipan, and Tinian (Northern Mariana Islands); Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); Pacific Theater
Rank: Corporal
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Wilfred Billey was born in 1923 near Sanostee, New Mexico, and attended boarding school at the Navajo Methodist Mission School in Farmington before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1943. After completing the training to become a Code Talker at the Navajo Communication School, Billey was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, with whom he took part in the battles on Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. After returning from the war, Billey finished high school, then went on to get a bachelor’s degree and start his career in education. He worked as a science and industrial arts teacher, as a guidance counselor, and also attained a master's degree while working full-time. Billey eventually became an administrator, serving as the principal of Shiprock High School for fifteen years before finally retiring in 1990.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (13 min.)
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Billey’s gratefulness for the use of the atomic bombs, due to the fact that Billey and the 2nd Marine Division were due to invade Kyushu in November 1945; visiting Japan and Nagasaki after the war. (02:05) Returning home; working as a school principal, teacher, coach, and guidance counselor; receiving an honorary doctorate. (03:02) Traveling the country to speak to the public about his service as a Code Talker. (01:17)
His advice for people joining the military today; memories of how difficult boot camp was. (01:46)  

Home » Wilfred E. Billey
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  October 26, 2011
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