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Bill Wilson has been return to Pacific

11 November 2001

Bill Wilson served two years on the Pacific island during the World War II when he was 21 years old and he came back there now by pure curiosity. When Wilson saw Tinian Island in the last time, it was largely undeveloped and had few residents, other than military workforce sent to build a base of operations. Wilson sent working alongside fellow members of the 67th SeaBee Battalion to put up buildings and create airstrips to accommodate the assembly and launches of the atomic bombs destined for the Japananese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now Wilson at 80 years old couldn''t shake a desire to see what had become of the island that served as a temporary home for two years and ultimately declare a place in history. Wilson said, laughing to himself, “I thought I was going to an uninhabited island, I was flabbergasted.” A few weeks ago Wilson and his wife, Gladys, arrived on a thoroughly modern tropical isle in the Northern Mariana Island chain, populated by roughly 3,000 people. The couple stayed in a luxurious resort with a flourishing gambling casino. As soon as Wilson talked about his era on the island to the resort manager, he was almost immediately shake hand with the island''s veterans affairs representative, Jerry Facey. And in a short time, they stood in the office of Gov. Pedro Tenorio. Tenorio presented Wilson with a certificate welcoming him back to the island and expressing positive reception for his sacrificed throughout the war, along with a small coin mounted on a wood base honor the visit. The couple was accompanying around the island by car and helicopter. None of the buildings Wilson helped construct is there, but the airstrips are. One is still being used, while others are obscured by vegetation. Wilson''s curiosity has been satisfied in the trip on the island. He left with a greater sense that his war- time service is still appreciated, more than half a century later.

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