William Weber enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 in 1943.
“I was a soldier. That’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
By the time he got to the Philippines, the war in the Pacific was winding down.
But when the Japanese surrendered, his unit was responsible for securing the port of Yokohama and the route to Tokyo so that Gen. Douglas MacArthur could travel to Tokyo to secure the peace.
Weber was amazed by the cultural unity of the Japanese people, so complete that there was no effort to resist the emperor’s order to stand down.
“One day, they were trying to kill you. The next day, they were bowing in front of you,” he said.
Weber, who lives in New Windsor, stayed in Japan until November 1947 with the occupation government.
He had been sent to officer candidate school in 1944 and decided to make the military a career.
He served in Korea, losing an arm and a leg, and retired in 1980 as a colonel.
His injuries ended his time as a company commander and cost him a chance to command larger groups.
But Weber doesn’t look back with any anger.
If you choose to make a career as a soldier, you have to accept what that entails, he said. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be a soldier.
“I have no regrets. The way it worked out — I would have been happier if it hadn’t gone that way.”
— Ryan Marshall