William L. More, a retired Exxon marketing representative who fought during World War II with the 4th Marine Division in some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific, died Saturday of respiratory failure at Bonnie Blink, the Maryland Masonic Home. He was 90.
Nearly 40 years would pass before William Lynn More could bring himself to talk about Iwo Jima, the 36-day battle in 1945 for a rugged, uninhabited eight-square-mile Pacific island of gray volcanic sand and rock, where 6,800 Americans died and 26,000 were wounded.
The son of a builder and a homemaker, Mr. More was born and raised in Oneonta, N.Y., where he graduated in 1941 from Oneonta High School.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942, and because he was an accomplished violinist and brass musician, was sent to the Marine Corps Music School at Parris Island, S.C.
Mr. More had been a hunter while growing up in upstate New York and was an expert marksman. He was sent to Camp Pendleton in California, and Maui, Hawaii, for further training to become an intelligence scout.
He then joined the 4th Marine Division, which had been activated in 1943, and joined H Company, a machine gun and heavy-weapons unit. He was later sent to the division's Battalion Intelligence section as a scout.
In January 1944, the 4th Marine Division sailed from San Diego for the Marshall Islands.
Within 13 months, Mr. More and the 4th Marine Division had fought in three major amphibious landings — Kwajalein, Saipan and Tinian — that culminated with the invasion of Iwo Jima on Feb, 19, 1945.
Under heavy protective naval gunfire that began just after 9 a.m., Mr. More and his comrades from the 4th and 5th divisions boarded landing craft and began making their way to Iwo Jima's southeast beaches.
Japanese forces launched a heavy mortar barrage as the Marines sought to land and push their way inland over the hardened volcanic sand, which bogged them and their equipment down.
"Men were crying out for their mothers, wives and girlfriends," Mr. More told a Baltimore Sun reporter in 2001. "I had just celebrated my 22nd birthday. I wondered if I would be alive to celebrate another one."
Mr. More recalled that fear was a constant companion.
"Scared. You were scared all the time. Things got so bad, you could hide behind a blade of grass," he said in the interview.
In the surrounding horror, Mr. More said, there were some light moments, such as the Marine who found an abandoned rattan chair that he insisted on carrying with him from place to place. At night, he would sit in it eating hard candy.
"He seemed to have an endless supply," said Mr. More. "We could hear him eating it and wondered if the Japanese could, too."
Mr. More, who was wounded at Roi-Namur on Kwajalein and again during the invasion of Saipan, was awarded two Purple Hearts. He was also awarded a Bronze Star.
After being discharged at the end of the war with the rank of lieutenant, he remained in the reserves and was called up during the Korean War. He was discharged in 1952.
He returned to Oneonta after the end of World War II and went back to his high school to visit teachers and friends.
His former English teacher said she was chaperoning a dance that coming Saturday night with a new math teacher, Shirley Agnes Reed, who was "young and beautiful," he told The Baltimore Sun in an interview last year. She told him to go to her homeroom and introduce himself.
"So I went up there, and here was this beautiful woman. … I walked her home and asked if she wanted to go out to dinner," Mr. More recalled. "We did, and after dinner, I informed her that we were going to get married, and we did on June 22, 1946."