|MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (2/11/2010) — He has faithfully dedicated three times the required years necessary to retire and is still going. |
Friends and family members came to Camp Pendleton to join Walter “Val” Valentine on his service recognition ceremony held at the base's Family Team Building, Feb. 5.
The ceremony included many distinguished guests and friends who wanted to honor Valentine's combined 60 years of service to his country.
“Valentine's devotion to his country couldn't pass unnoticed,” said Sgt. Maj. Ramona D. Cook, sergeant major, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “We thank you for such a remarkable life of service.”
Many highlights enlightened the event including words of appreciation from friends and family members, the presence of Cook, personal letters from Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, sergeant major of the Marine Corps and Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps.
Valentine's experience as a Marine is what most service members today only read about in history books.
Valentine's lifelong dedication to his country began at the height of World War II when he joined the Marine Corps in 1942. Right out of boot camp, he received orders to the Pacific with 3rd Marine Division as a scout sniper.
During this time, Pfc. Valentine participated in the assault landing of Bougainville, now Papua New Guinea, in November of 1943, then headed to Guadalcanal for continued combat training.
Shortly after that, Cpl. Valentine participated in the assault landing that recaptured the island of Guam.
Valentine's combat experience came to a climax during the historic battle of Iwo Jima where he earned a Purple Heart.
“One of my biggest personal highlights of World War II was witnessing the flag rising of Iwo Jima,” said Valentine. “I will never forget it.”
The allies were able to defeat Japan in World War II but Valentine was only beginning his legacy as a warrior.
When the communist forces of North Korea attacked the Southern peninsula, Valentine found himself once again in the belly of an amphibious assault vehicle heading for Inchon in 1950.
During that conflict, Valentine fought in the battle of Chosin Reservoir and participated in many other Central Korean campaigns.
After surviving the Korean War, Gunnery Sgt. Valentine was back again at war for the Vietnam conflict during the 11200s. He earned his combat crew wings for serving as a door gunner, an unusual billet for a gunnery sergeant.
Valentine went on to serve as a leader of Marines with numerous infantry units, a guard company, a missile battery, aircraft squadrons and recruiting duty.
Sgt. Maj. Valentine's final assignment before retiring from active duty came at Camp Pendleton on June 30, 1973. He put his GI Bill to use and earned an associate degree in business administration and supervision and continued his service as a civilian employee at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Valentine has been married for 62 years and currently resides in Carlsbad, Calif. They have 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
Valentine is still currently serving as the special programs coordinator for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and he says that he has no plans to retire any time soon.