Keith Brownmiller
With the inclusion of shipmates from CV 40 at our recent Tarawa reunion, it caused me to wonder about the history of Tarawa. The first 5 LHAs were named after famous Marine Corps battles.

To complete the history of Tarawa, it be incomplete without trying to find a survivor of the Battle of Tarawa from where our name comes from.

As the World War II veterans decrease in numbers, I thought trying to find a Tarawa veteran might be impossible.

Enter SgtMaj Ray V Wilburn, USMC Retired. SgtMaj Ray Wilburn entered the Marine Corps in 1939 and retired after 32 years of service. His combat experience includes the battles of Tarawa and Guadalcanal, Korea and Viet Nam.

SgtMaj Ray Wilburn completes the lineage of the Tarawa and he would make a truly special guest at our 2016 reunion.

We would be honored to have such a special guest and to hear some of the stories about the early battles of Navy and Marine Corps history.

The Gunny
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Rick Holly
Keith, I would like to do a special thread devoted to him. The next time you have lunch with him, ask him if he would have a World War II picture of him.Take a digital picture of it on your smart phone along with a current picture of him and send it to me. I will prepare them for his special thread. When we talked earlier today on the phone, I was mesmerized about his story how he was wounded at the Battle of Tarawa. We will certainly include that in the thread. Ha, I wonder if "In God we Trust" were on American coins during World War II.
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Keith Brownmiller
SgtMaj Ray Wilburn turned 95 this year.

This photo of him about the time of the Battle of Tarawa




He can still wear his uniform from the time he retired.

Here is a more current photo of him in uniform.


The Gunny
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Bigdaddy dale
OUTSTANDING!! I think it would be the all time best if he could make it to the next reunion.
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Steve Stanfill
If SgtMaj Wilburn is going to attend the 2016 reunion and needs airfare and lodging, I got that covered.
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ABH-2DavidMcnair
What a man, what a story, a, living legend
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ABH-2DavidMcnair
Bigdaddy dale wrote:
OUTSTANDING!! I think it would be the all time best if he could make it to the next reunion.
Big Daddy Dale I am with you, so cool if we could get him there to our reunion , I would pay his way, I really would
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Keith Brownmiller
SgtMaj Ray Wilburn is in fact a living legend. Above and beyond that, he lives here in Twentynine Palms with me. I see almost regularly at the Retirees breakfast they have on base once a month or at the Naval Hospital here on the base.

If he can handle the drive to Vegas from here in Twentynine Palms, he might ride with Jo and I along with his wife Irma, however time will tell.

Just a quick trivia question about military decorations. How many people have been awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V"?

SgtMaj Wilburn was awarded one for a combat tour in Viet Nam, his 3rd war.
The Gunny
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Rick Holly
Keith, any chance you could video him talking a little bit about the Battle of Tarawa? I wish I were there. I would do it video history of the battle through him.
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Keith Brownmiller
Will talk with him about it and see what he says. I will however share with him the generosity of our shipmates in stepping up to the plate to cover travel and lodging for the reunion.

Proof positive just how great the shipmates of the Tarawa are.
The Gunny
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