Neal McCallum was born March 10, 1927, not too far from Greensboro, North Carolina. His was a large family, supported by his father’s job as a locomotive engineer even during the dark days of the Depression. Neal had just started high school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he grew up against the backdrop of the war, expecting that his turn would come one day. He enlisted in the Marines when he was 17 – with his father’s permission. He attended boot camp at Parris Island, followed by additional training at Camp Lejeune. The men then boarded a troop train and headed cross country to the Marines base at San Diego. From there they boarded a troop transport and headed across the Pacific, where they initially were based on Guadalcanal for additional training for about one month. By that time the American “Island Hopping” campaign had reached the Japanese territory of Okinawa, and one of the penultimate battles of the Pacific War was about to begin. Part of the 6th Div., 29th Regiment, Neal saw action in the northern side of the island, where he was engaged in intense combat in the fight for Sugarloaf Hill. His personal role in the fight lasted for a 49-day stretch before he was wounded. After that, Neal was treated in hospital in Okinawa and Guam, and then he was shipped back to the U.S. for recovery, fully expecting to return to the battlefield for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of Japan. The atomic bombs ended that possibility though, and Neal did not have to return to the Pacific. He did serve more time in the Marines, and had the chance to see a bit of Europe after the war. His service complete, he returned Stateside and found his own way in the rhythms of postwar American life. Crestwood students were fortunate to zoom with Neal in February 2022.
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