HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Veterans of World War II are dying at a rapid pace. Bob O'Bannon, one of those most recent WWII vets to die, lived in Huntsville. O'Bannon served only three years in the military, but showed everyone around him how the Marine Corps made an impact on him to last a lifetime.
O'Bannon died July 26, 2012 at the age of 95. He fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and served during the occupation of Japan in the 1940s. The infantryman's time in the Marines was short, but his legacy to our nation and his family is long.
Dozens, young and old, paid respects to O'Bannon. O'Bannon's son, Randy, says the Marine was like so many others in his father's generation.
"He was an american hero. He grew up, lived through the depression, World War II, fought in the Battle of Iwo Jim and was in during the occupation of Japan," said Randy O'Bannon.
O'Bannon served the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946. He got out as a Private First Class.
Randy O'Bannon says the infantryman lived every day since leaving the Marine Corps believing in the Corps' motto, "Semper Fidelis", which means always faithful.
"He was a faithful man. He was faithful to my mother, his children, family, fellow human beings, church and God," said Randy O'Bannon.
Several former Marines honored the veteran. Members of our area's Semper Fi Community Task Force served as pallbearers.
The non-profit organization honored O'Bannon at one of its meetings in 2007.
"I think we picked him because he was a veteran of Iwo Jima, the bloodiest battle of the Marine Corps' history. The WWII generation is leaving us more quickly than we would like," added Randy O'Bannon.
The Marine Corps's Kilo Battery stationed in Huntsville gave O'Bannon full military honors. One of the unit's sergeants presented the american flag to O'Bannon's wife.
Mr. and Mrs. O'Bannon were married 72 years. The O'Bannon name is important to the Marine Corps. There is a hall at the Basic School for officers in Virginia named after Pressley O'Bannon.
Pressley is an uncle to Bob O'Bannon. Pressley O'Bannon is known for leading the successful attack in the Battle of Derna in 1805, giving the Marines' Hymn its line 'to the shores of Tripoli'.