Cpl. William Bilchak
William Bilchak, decorated Marine
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Plain Dealer Reporter
Bedford - Services for William Bilchak, who was awarded the Silver Star for his service as a Marine in the Pacific during World War II, will be at noon today at Rybicki & Son Funeral Home, 4640 Turney Road, Garfield Heights.
The 82-year-old Bedford resident, who died Thursday at Brecksville VA Hospital, regarded his Silver Star and the Blue Star pinned on the Presidential Unit Citation as symbols of saving fellow Marines, not taking lives.
"There's a hell of a lot more people who should've got medals," Bilchak told The Plain Deal er's Brian Al brecht in 1993. "I try to put this stuff behind me. I don't think I was doing anything special... That was my job."
Bilchak was among the first wave of Marines to land during the U.S. invasion of Japanese-occupied Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. He cleared caves occupied by Japanese soldiers at Saipan. He helped secure Tinian Island for construction of an airfield. He later guarded the airstrip and the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
A corporal, he led several reconnaissance patrols into enemy territory. He was wounded five times while participating in the Gilbert and Marianas Islands campaigns. He spent time between invasions recuperating from his wounds and training new recruits.
Bilchak, who was born in Empire, north of Steubenville, worked for a Cleveland metal stamping plant, where he cut metal to make automobile parts.
His wife, Wanda, died in 1995.
Bilchak is survived by his son, Gregory of Kansas City, Mo.; two granddaughters; and a great-granddaughter.
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Created 14 October 2004