WILBUR BESTWICK, USMC (DECEASED)
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 Skylawn Memorial Park in San Mateo, 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 3d 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 1 September 1959.
His personal decorations include the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V", the Navy Unit Commendation, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps 23 May 1957 - 31 August 1959