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William "Bill" L. Tolar
Now Residing in Heaven -
"I am blessed. I have seen my God and He has been in close contact with me. (He even sat beside me in a Jeep.)"
- Bill Tolar
Events of August 10, 1950
This is hard to talk about because each of the six wounded that we pulled out had bullet wounds. The first one was the only one we lost. The other five survived. I have no idea who they were and have never seen nor heard from any of them. I am blessed. I have seen my God and He has been in close contact with me. (He even sat beside me in a Jeep.)
Riding in back of truck.... Our FO (forward observation for artillery) party rated a Jeep, but we had to leave Pusan before they could unload it. In front of us and around a bend in the road, the convoy came to a halt due to heavy enemy fire from a ridge on the left side. The entire infantry battalion was pinned down in a ditch along the road. Further up, some were pinned down behind a small hill in the rice patty. A tank that was leading the infantry had fallen through a bridge over a small creek and had the road blocked. It was easy target practice for the Gooks.
Why Choose Me?
Sergeant Potokie ordered Lester Clary and me to get a stretcher and go forward and bring back Lieutenant Hall to help direct artillery fire on the ridge. Why choose me out of all the other men???
Target for the Gooks
Clary and I moved forward with the stretcher and as we rounded the bend I noticed that the road was empty and that the men were pinned down in the ditch across the road. I suggested we cross over, and as we did we drew our first enemy fire. They missed, as we quickly crossed the road and dove into the ditch. We started crawling forward asking about the Lieutenant. Marines in the ditch were griping at us because we were drawing enemy fire. I noticed that I had a tan foil cover over the muzzle of my carbine and it was showing above the ditch as I crawled along, offering a target for the Gooks. How could the Gooks miss Clary and me when we crossed the road and while we were crawling along???
The Only Thing Moving
We came across a Marine that had been shot in the chest above the heart, laying in the lap of a corporal. He asked us to take the Marine back to the aid station, but we had to decline because we were still looking for Lieutenant Hall. The corporal indicated that Hall had been shot in the leg and was hiding behind a small hill about 200 yards from the ditch. Clary and I began to crawl through the rice patty and immediately drew enemy fire. They continued to miss. Clary and I headed back into the ditch. How could they continue to miss, especially when Clary and I were the only thing moving???
Clary ran across the road, grabbed an abandoned Jeep, turned it around, and parked it in the road in front of where the wounded Marine war. We then loaded the Marine on the Jeep. I was on the driver's side but Clary came around and said he was driving. I told him he was nuts and to hop on. Gooks began to fire at us and several bullets hit the folded down windshield, causing Clary to let go of my arm and the Jeep. I took off. I tried to speed shift, but failed. When the engine idled down I heard Clary screaming, "Wait for me!" I looked back and he was running down the middle of the road with bullets kicking up dust around his feet. He grabbed onto the back of the Jeep and I took off.
When we got back to the aid station we unloaded the Marine and made arrangements to change Jeeps due to having a tire shot out. I informed Clary that he was the driver and to let me out and I would locate another wounded Marine. We headed around the bend again. I located a wounded Marine, who we loaded up and took back to the aid station. Clary drove crazy and nearly ran over several officers, including a General who had flown in to help get the convoy back on the road. One of the officers got a message to the aid station that Clary was not to drive any more. When he got the news he said he was through and that he was not going up to the front any more, referring to me as being a suckie. He changed his mind and continued the mission.
Coming back from our third run, I noticed three F4U Corsairs circling above us. They dove towards me, turned on their side to fit in the valley, and proceeded to fire rockets and machine guns while flying about 50 feet above my head. They then circled and dropped bombs and napalm on the Gooks. Needless to say, our next three trips were much less eventful with only scattered small arms fire. Lieutenant Hall was our final pick-up, and then we returned the Jeep to the road around the bend, picked up our gear, and headed back to the firing battery. How could they continue to miss when Clary and I were the only targets???
God Was There Beside Me
I did hop into a ditch with cold running water, stripped, washed my clothes, got the leeches off my body (plus the rice patty perfume), put my wet clothes on, and reported back to Sergeant Potokie and Captain Jordan. Colonel Murray drove up, asked where I was, and then came over, shook my hand, and thanked me for pulling the wounded men out. Jordan asked, "What is going on? Colonels don't come up to PFCs and shake their hands for no reason."
As Murray described the rescue trips, I got weak in the knees and nearly fainted. Jordan talked with me and told me to write a letter home, which I did. It was published in part in a Houston paper, and eventually led to the poem by Elsie Gerhart entitled, "God Rode with Me Today."
"God Rode with Me Today" is the answer to all of the 'how could they miss' questions above. I know I was praying the whole time, but the fact that I was not scared, not concerned, and able to concentrate on the task at hand was only because God was there beside me the whole time. Maybe now you can understand why I refer to the first few weeks of August as my 'Boo Hoo' weeks. Also, whenever I see an F4U Corsair, the tears flow because I know who sent the planes to cover us.
Captain Jordan pulled me back from the FO party and placed me in battery security, which I stayed in until mid-September when we pulled back into Pusan to regroup prior to the Inchon landing. My left knee was giving me problems, so Jordan sent me to an Army medical doctor who determined after X-rays that I had a problem and shipped me out to the hospital in Japan. Fukuyoka, Kyoto and Yokosuka were the different hospitals I was in prior to being shipped back to the States to Mare Island Naval Hospital. Once out of the hospital, I was shipped to Treasure Island to await my fate. I was discharged in January, returned home, and went back to high school and graduated. The rest is history. Very interestingly, I was one day short of 11 months service on my four-year enlistment.
Silver Star Recipient
(Citation coming soon.)
God Rode With Me Today - written by Elsie Gerhart of Houston, TX
God's Warrior! - written by Ken Miller, April 3, 2009
A Marine Died Today - author unknown
Biography of Bill Tolar
Family & Friends Tribute
Mark, M'Lynn, Pam, Darrel and Monte - in Memory of Our Dad:
Tim Sudderth - In Memory of My Hero:
Love, good night, Must thou go,
Fades the light; And afar
Thanks and praise, For our days,