Carleton-Willard Village Resident and Iwo Jima Veteran Shares Memories of WWII
April 22, 2014
Bedford, MA-On April 21, 2014, Harry L. Wildasin, Ph.D., formerly of York County and Hanover, Pennsylvania, shared his memories of the Battle for Iwo Jima, one of the fiercest and bloodiest engagements of World War II’s campaign in the Pacific, with his fellow residents at Carleton-Willard Village in Bedford, Massachusetts. Dr. Wildasin’s videotaped oral history is a vivid personal account of his experience as a U.S. Marine Corps Captain and Platoon Commander of the 4th Marine Division in the first Battle of Iwo Jima.
Dr. Wildasin is a 1940 graduate of Eichelberger SR High School (Hanover, PA) and Pennsylvania State University (1943, 1949).
He joined the US Marine Corps in 1943 as part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program. One of the youngest US Marine officers at the time, 20-year old Wildasin commanded the 4th Marine Division Platoon in the first wave of battles at Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945, a date he “won’t forget for a long time,” his platoon landed on the beach of Iwo Jima and was involved in fierce fighting with the Japanese that liberated the island after taking devastating casualties. On the eighth day, he was hit in the back by shrapnel and evacuated, but refused a medical discharge. Wildasin, still bearing the pea-sized shrapnel in his back, was in the midst of training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for duty as a company commander in Japan when he heard the news that the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. “I could have kissed Truman,” states Wildasin, who knew that the event meant the end of combat for him. He continued serving at Camp Lejeune until 1946. Wildasin was awarded a Purple Heart during his second year of service, and more recently he received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Marine Corps League, a Citation for Excellent Service as a platoon leader from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a Medal of Uncommon Valor for his combat service from the Iwo Jima Memorial Historical Foundation.
After resigning his Marine Corps commission, Wildasin returned to Penn State under the GI Bill to earn his Ph.D. in Diary Science. He then embarked on a long career beginning as a professor at the University of Connecticut. He spent 30 years at HP Hood in Charlestown, MA as Director of Quality Control and Government Relations, Director of New Product Development and as their top economist, and ended his career as a member of the Senior Board of Executives. After retiring from Hood at the age of 60, Wildasin was retained as a consultant for three of their divisions, and then went on to form his own national consulting service, Wildasin Associates. He was a resident of Lexington, MA for 40 years.
Today, Dr. Wildasin resides with his wife Mary Lou at Carleton-Willard Village.
Dr. Wildasin’s interview is one in a series of 29 World War II oral histories which were conceived and developed by the residents of Carleton-Willard Village. The set, in which residents interview each other, includes personal accounts encompassing many aspects of war, and won the LeadingAge of Massachusetts’ 2013 Innovative Program Award.
Carleton-Willard Village is a continuing care retirement community in Bedford, MA, providing premier senior living services since 1884. For more information on Carleton-Willard Village, please visit www.cwvillage.org.