Once A Wrestler, Always A Marine
(January 29, 2011)
|KANEOHE, Hawaii (Jan. 26, 2011) - When the Empire of Japan attacked then
Naval Station Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, there was no
doubt in Donn Lewin's mind what he wanted to do.|
old man said ‘what are we going to do now?'” Lewin said,
reminiscing just a few weeks before he died. “I say, I don't
know what you're going to do but I'm going to enlist in the
Marine Corps. He says ‘you're only 15' and I said I don' t
The former Marine sergeant, who died Dec. 18,
wore many hats, from tropical fish breeder, to bodybuilder,
to professional wrestler. But in his heart, many say, he was
always a Marine.
Lewin, a native of Buffalo, N.Y.,
was born April 1, 1926. He fought in several
campaigns including Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Guam
during World War II, and during his service he
received three Purple Hearts.
said he would have liked
Donn Lewin, a former Marine who served during World War II, talks to Marines from 3rd Radio Battalion about his experiences on Iwo Jima before the advanced screening of "Flags of Our Fathers," at the Dole Cannery theater, Oct. 15, 2006.
|to stay in the
Corps, he left after four years, following force reductions
after the war. His last duty — an admiral's orderly.
After leaving the military, Lewin started bodybuilding and
before being a professional wrestler. Nicknamed “The
Executioner,” Lewin ended matches with his signature
Lewin's wife of 36 years, Judy Lewin,
first met him at a wrestling match, seeing him in his
“I just knew he'd be an
interesting man,” Judy Lewin said.
remembers going on as many as three trips each week with her
husband to wrestling matches to different cities. After
bigger card matches, the Lewins would dine out and return
home to Buffalo, N.Y., to take care of the tropical fish
Eventually, they settled in the tropics.
The Lewins moved to Hawaii in 1984, and stayed.
liked the weather and the people,” Judy Lewin said.
At Lewin's Hawaii Kai home on Oahu, he set up a home gym
that he opened to the neighborhood boys.
made time for the Corps. After befriending one of the base's
past provost marshals, Lewin regularly visited the Military
Police Department on base every Thursday up until the last
few years. There, he would have a cup of black coffee and
chat with the Marines. Many Marine Corps Base Hawaii
personnel made it a tradition to eat lunch with Lewin at
Mokapu Mall, including base leaders. Lewin enjoyed calzones
at Mokapu Mall's Italian eatery until it was replaced.
“He was pissed when it went away,” said Master Sgt.
Phillip Frazier, operations chief, Military Police
With the Italian eatery gone, Lewin and
friends ordered pizza instead and the tradition and
Frazier said he enjoyed
listening to Lewin tell stories about the Corps over Italian
food, bonding with the former Marine.
Frazier chose Lewin to help pin on chevrons at his promotion
ceremony at the Pacific War Memorial.
Lewin was a
true friend, Frazier said.
It was also appropriate
because Lewin was in Iwo Jima in 1945, when the famous flag
“How fitting would that be to get
somebody who was a veteran of the Iwo Jima conflict to pin
my chevrons on?” Frazier said. “I thought that was special.”
Jacque Freeland, anti-terrorism force protection
officer, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, spent time with Lewin on
Thursdays. She said he often wore Marine Corps related
T-shirts for lunch. Lewin, who she described as “extremely
patriotic,” would attend nearly every Marine Corps event to
which he was invited.
Lewin attended police academy
graduations, Marine Corps birthday balls, and the annual
Kaneohe Klipper Memorial ceremony.
“He loved the
Marine Corps,” Freeland said.
A memorial will be held
in honor of Lewin aboard the base later this year.
By Kristen Wong|
Camp LeJeune Base Public Affairs
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