Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Former Marine sergeant, high-tech executive found peace that lasts
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- He worked closely with Steve Jobs in the start-up phase at Apple, helping the company grow to $5 billion in revenue. But it was lessons he learned as a Marine Corps infantryman that caused him to find lasting inner peace.
Walt Wilson grew up in New York City during World War II. As a seven-year- old boy, the iconic photo of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima grabbed his attention and he thought, Someday I’d like to be one of those guys.
A few of Walt’s friends found acceptance by joining gangs, and he admits he struggled as an adolescent. “My teen years were about drifting, wasting time, accomplishing nothing,” he recalls. “The life I was living was meaningless, worthless and wrong – a place I didn’t want to be. I felt empty and disconnected.”
One day a recruiting billboard for the Marines caught his eye. He stopped in his tracks to take in the imposing figure dressed in a sharp blue uniform, high collar, gold emblems, white hat, gloves and sword. Beneath the Marine was a simple phrase: “The Marine Corps builds men.”
The poster’s unspoken message about discipline, courage and commitment to a greater cause struck home. He remembered the photo of the Marines raising the flag at Mt. Suribachi. Walt recognized something important: I need to become a man.
Shortly after that, he enlisted and survived recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina. Next came infantry training at Camp Lejeune as a basic rifleman. He was proud to be a “mud-Marine, a grunt.”
Walt’s squad leader, Sergeant Dale Yaw, imparted several truths that left a major impression on him. “Sgt. Yaw told me he would never leave me out there alone,” he notes. Secondly, his sergeant said that if Walt died, he would personally take Walt home.
“A third thing I knew about Sgt. Yaw, though he never said it, was that he would die for his Marines. He demonstrated that this wasn’t just a branch of the military, but a brotherhood.”
Walt’s infantry experience left him with the confidence to face any adversary, but there was one unanswered question that lingered in his mind: If I do die in service to my country, what happens to me then? What comes after death?
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