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Bill Lansford
Bill Lansford
California
Bill Lansford, whose mother came to the United States from Juarez, Mexico, was born July 13, 1922 and grew up in Latino neighborhoods in East Los Angeles. He spoke little English and had virtually no contact with his Anglo father, a Los Angeles policeman, until he was fourteen. At 16, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps where he worked as a lumberjack and learned dynamiting.

In 1940, Lansford joined the Marines and, after bootcamp, he was sent to Iceland where he watched German planes fly overhead, but otherwise spent 10 uneventful months. After Pearl Harbor, Lansford and his unit returned to the United States where he volunteered for Carlson's Second Raider Battalion, a new elite commando unit, and became a machine gunner.

After months of intensive training in close combat, guerilla warfare, and jungle survival, Lansford and his unit were put into action on Guadalcanal. In November of 1942, they were ordered to enter the jungle behind enemy lines and harass a 3,000-man Japanese force that was on its way to attack Henderson Field. In 30 days (which came to be known as the "Long Patrol") they killed more than 488 men, and lost just 34 Raiders.

Lansford also saw action on Bougainville and was promoted to Sergeant. When the Raiders were disbanded he was assigned to the 4th Regiment of the 6th Marine Division and made leader of a machine gun section. He led his men through the battle of Iwo Jima, where he was wounded on March 15th.

After the war, Lansford joined the Army, was commissioned, and served in the Korean War. Following his return, Lansford became a magazine writer and later wrote movie and TV scripts for Hollywood. During this period, he married Ruth Ketcham and they raised two sons.

Lansford is currently the President of the Eugene Obregon Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial Foundation, which is dedicated to raising a monument to the 40 Latino-American Medal of Honor recipients.