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Retired Marine is guest of honor on Parris Island

By Bob Sofaly

James E. Walls was born in Crumpton, Maryland, in 1930. At 17, he joined the U.S. Merchant Marines and served on an oil tanker visiting exotic ports in South America, the Suez Canal and all the way to the Persian Gulf.

But for Walls it wasn’t enough. He expected more out of life and was looking for something different. So, in 1954 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was  later assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga, deploying to the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1966, he was a platoon sergeant in South Vietnam with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines and fought on the legendary Hill 55. Casualties were so high in the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, it was pulled out of Vietnam, and Walls returned to Parris Island where he served his second tour as a drill instructor.

In 1982, Walls served as Depot Sgt. Major at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Walls retired in 1983. He and his wife of 54 years, Lillian, settled down in the quiet Shell Point neighborhood where he is still referred to as the Sgt. Major.

From left: Brig. General Lori Reynolds, commanding general on Parris Island; Lillian Walls; Retired Sgt. Maj. James Walls; and Depot Sgt. Major Gary Buck. James Walls served as the Parris Island Depot Sgt. Major from 1982-83.
From left: Brig. General Lori Reynolds, commanding general on Parris Island; Lillian Walls; Retired Sgt. Maj. James Walls; and Depot Sgt. Major Gary Buck. James Walls served as the Parris Island Depot Sgt. Major from 1982-83.
The color guard for last Friday’s Morning Colors ceremony gets ready to raise the “Garrison Flag”. The flag is so large it takes two Marines to carry it.
The color guard for last Friday’s Morning Colors ceremony gets ready to raise the “Garrison Flag”. The flag is so large it takes two Marines to carry it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Parris Island Depot Sgt. Maj. Gary Buck, left, and Retired Sgt. Maj. James Walls salute as the Color Guard passes during the graduation ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
Parris Island Depot Sgt. Maj. Gary Buck, left, and Retired Sgt. Maj. James Walls salute as the Color Guard passes during the graduation ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
The Parris Island Marine Band marches into position to begin the traditional Morning Colors ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
The Parris Island Marine Band marches into position to begin the traditional Morning Colors ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

 

 

 

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