George Stewart ‘At Ease’

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War Hero Moves to Port Royal To Be Close to Parris Island

Age 85 has been a big year for decorated war veteran and Ohio native George Stewart.  He published a book, he wrote about his life “A Tale of 85 Years” and moved to Port Royal with his wife Bertha to be close to his beloved Parris Island.

Nursing assistant Priscilla Mendoza serving coffee to George Stewart and his wife, Bertha.
Nursing assistant Priscilla Mendoza serving coffee to George Stewart and his wife, Bertha.

Says Tony Maker, Director of River Oaks Assisted Living where George lives, “He moved here because this brings him full circle with how he started his adult life. His life story in the book is fantastic and his quotes mirror his great qualities learned from World War II and his career traveling and working in 30 different countries.”

After listening over the radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor, George, a High School All Star Left Tackle, signed up for the Marines.

He rode the train, called the Magnolia Trail, in the middle of the night to get to Port Royal where they barged him over to Parris Island on his final leg of the long trip from Ohio in 1941.

George served in the South Pacific where he fought in many important battles, including Guadalcanal, Fiji Islands, where he helped take over and defend a newly built Japanese airstrip. The result? Two purple hearts.  The first in 1942 at Guadalcanal. A shell landed near him, knocked him out and wounded his left leg. He went to rehab in Australia, where they found he also had Malaria and a fungus in both ears.

The second in 1943 on the South side of New Guinea under MacArthur, the day after they took a hill from the Japanese; the enemy tried to re-take their position. George’s arm was almost blown off by shellfire. But setbacks never stopped George; in fact his favorite word is perseverance.’

Says George, “It is a rare person who does not get discouraged.  We all have private wars we carry quietly within ourselves. Learn to live through your personal weakness.”

After his war years, George returned home and first worked as a plumber while getting his engineering license and subsequently worked all over the country in construction-related jobs. I asked George his advice on work.

“You should like the job you have. If you don’t, go on to something else. It’s tough enough to work each day, but to work at a job you don’t like would be awful.”  And if you end up a boss, George adds, “Remember… as a manager, give credit where credit is due.”

In his book he writes, “ I am a small part of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ and it’s been an amazing experience.” My generation has seen so many changes. We have been around for the good times to the world’s greatest depression, lived through gas or kerosene lamps to electric lighting, slow moving horses and buggies to luxury automobiles, speed trains, and airplanes. We’ve been here from walking almost everywhere to getting radio and television and then landing on the moon. I could go on. My hope is that our next generation will do as well and maybe even better.”

So is George happy that he moved back to Port Royal to River Oaks Assisted Living?  Says George, “Yeah I like it! And as long as the boss is happy (the boss being wife Bertha), I’m happy!”

If you are interested in meeting George or finding out more about his book, contact Tony Makar, Director, River Oaks Assisted Living, 1251 Lady’s Island Drive, Port Royal, SC 29935 (843)521-2298.