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KCDZ 107.7 FM - MARINE CORPS HERO, LOCAL ICON, SGT. MAJOR (RET.) RAY WILBURN DIES AT 98.

MARINE CORPS HERO, LOCAL ICON, SGT. MAJOR (RET.) RAY WILBURN DIES AT 98.

MARINE CORPS HERO, LOCAL ICON, SGT. MAJOR (RET.) RAY WILBURN DIES AT 98.

A true Marine Corps hero died Tuesday. Retired Sergeant Major Ray Wilburn, who served more than 31 years in the Marine Corps, was 98 when he died just a few days after being placed into hospice care. Wilburn was born July 1, 1919 in Texas and hitch-hiked 70 miles in 1939 to enlist in the Marine Corps because he had no job and no money. Wilburn saw combat in three wars. His ship was sunk near Guadalcanal by the Japanese in 1942; he and the others on the ship were rescued after a few hours in the water. A year later, his battalion landed on Tarawa where he said the Marines had to push through dead bodies floating in the water to get to shore, where they then put their howitzers together to begin their fight against the Japanese. In 1951, Wilburn was sent to Korea where his unit was attacked by 122-mm rounds. In Vietnam, he was the sergeant major of a medical battalion that was under fire by mortars every night. Wilburn and his wife Irma married at the base chapel in Twentynine Palms in 1957 and they bought their first home in Twentynine Palms in 1969. The Wilburns had two daughters, Sharon Erdmann and Stephanie Dunphy.  Wilburn retired from the Marine Corps in 1971 but he was an institution on the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, where young Marines sought him out to talk to him. Sgt. Maj. Wilburn was a co-grand marshal of the Pioneer Days Parade in 2003. Services have not been announced yet.

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