November 11, 2008
Note: My father, Bill Lumpkin, was the Chaplain of the 2nd Marine Division on Tarawa and after the war until his death in 1969. He loved each of the men he served and Tarawa was a profound excperience for him as it was for all. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers him because you knew a part of him that I could never really know. I wish I had asked him more about WWII, but I was young when he died. I have all his letters home to my mom and a number of news articles about Tarawa. I have a beautiful AP photo of the church service on Christmas Eve on Tarawa.
Dad was good friends with Gen Julian Smith. In 1963, Smith was hunting alone and shot himself in the foot. He was at the bottom of a steep hill and doubted how he would ever manage to get himself to safety. After 20 years, he “saw” my dad at the top of the hill, beckoning to him and encouraging him, a replay of Tarawa for him. After he healed, he called my dad and said he had to see someone so deeply embedded in his sub consciousness again, and soon he and his wife came to spend the weekend with us. War creates remarkable bonds, as you all know.
Just for info for others, I went to the library at Quantico a few years ago and went through several hundred pictures of Tarawa, and the library allowed me to have 10 8X10's for free. I also left with them the Christmas pictures I have.
Safe journey to all on this Veterans’ Day.