Marine Corps Wilbum Lopez was drafted into the service. Even though he didn’t want to be part of the Army branch, he was required to join the army. However before he had already volunteered for the Marine Corps. He had said he wanted to be “the best of the best”.
Boot Camp Wilbum was stationed at MCRD base in San Diego, Ca. His aptitude test put him as a “Cannon Cocker” because he scored so high in math and agility. When he got to boot camp his first thought was “ oh God I made a big mistake, What am I doing here?” but after the shock had gone he had realized he.had made the right choice. He had described boot camp as they shave your head, feed you and work you into “one unit”. Boot camp was not for everyone. “ They turned you from a 17 year old boy into a man in 3 months”.
M.O.S Lopez had taken a test to find his strong points. This test was both written and agility. His results got him into Artillery School. He received special training from Camp Okinawa, Pendleton, La June Marine Corps bases. He was taught to load artillery rounds into high powered cannons and how to shoot backwards. He also received training in armored vehicle’s. The vehicle he received training for is the 155 self propelled howitzer.
Go! Fight! Win! Lopez was sent to North and South Vietnam. After that he unofficially fought in Cambodia. He had gone there to help his brother get out of the war and go home.
Pressure!!!!! There was a lot of pressure being in the Marine Corps. To relieve pressure he boxed in his unit. He also prayed and prayed and prayed. He was always nervous before going out to battle.
Entertainment!! Writing and reading letters. Praying. Listening to music. Clean his rifle. Sleep. Played pranks. Boxing
Unforgettable Moments Funny Moments His platoon had very many stories, one in particular is when one of his friends had a hemorrhoid and they needed to heat his rear up and a man was throwing gun powder into the fire to make it hotter and threw a little bit too much and burnt the mans rear!!! Scary Moment On a convoy his XO’s jeep hit a land mine and caused his armored truck to roll into a rice patty, Sgt Lopez almost drowned in 2 ½ feet of water because he was pinned under the overturned truck.
Unforgettable Moments continued… One of the worst things Wilbum Lopez had to do was loading dead bodies in body bags out into the trucks. He said that it still gives him nightmares today.
Injuries. Wilbum Lopez had suffered from many injuries, including: PTSD, Concussions, traumatic brain injury, and many more. One of his injuries was caused by his driver who was drunk and the whole truck flipped while they were in it.
Traveling During leave he would go and travel the world. Places like Bangkok, Thailand, Taiwan, Penang, Asia, and Japan. “Anywhere to get away from the war.”
Awards He had received the Presidential unit award, Vietnams gallantry campaign silver star award. To get this he rescued 6 men all under attack and all he had was a shovel. He also got the Purple Heart, plus many more.
End of his Service. End of his Service he was asked to be a driver for a General and had turned it down. He wanted to go home.
School He had gone back to school but he did not take it seriously at first. Later on he got his act together and got through it. He had used the G.I Bill To help him pay for school.
Life After War Wilbum Lopez got married twice his first wife left him for all the trouble he had from PTSD. After many years of therapy he got married again, his second wife and had 2 boys. Neither of his boys had joined the military.
Serve the Community He now volunteers at the Semper Fi #1, Honor detail at Arlington Cemetery is on the Board of Trustees for the library’s in the City of Riverside. He is also a chaplain “Serve your country then your family and then serve the community.”
Affects of the War The War had a huge influence on Wilbum. He is afraid for all the men in the war. “For those who did not make it they gave there today's for your tomorrows.” “Someone paid for your freedom.” “Everything the military does is to protect you freedom no matter what they did.” “Best of the best”