Louis H. Wilson Jr., 85, who received the Medal of Honor in World War II and served as commandant of the Marine Corps in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, died Tuesday at his home in Homewood, Ala. He had a degenerative disorder of the nervous system.
General Wilson commanded the Marines from 1975 to 1979 after serving in the Vietnam War as a senior officer with the 1st Marine Division. As commandant, he emphasized quality in the ranks, raising educational requirements for recruits and trying to screen out physically unfit young men seeking to enlist. At least 25,000 Marines were discharged in his first two years as commandant because of disciplinary problems or for substandard performance, and the corps gave officers greater oversight of training in an effort to curb physical abuse of trainees by drill instructors.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the South Pacific during World War II. According to the award citation, he organized night defenses in the face of continuous enemy fire and, although wounded three times, coordinated hand-to-hand fighting for 10 hours to hold his unit's position.
Chet Helms, 62, the revered father of the 1967 Summer of Love and a music promoter who launched the career of singer Janis Joplin, died Saturday at a San Francisco hospital of complications from a stroke.
He was the founder and manager of Big Brother and the Holding Company with Ms. Joplin as its lead singer. He was a rock 'n' roll impresario who helped stage free concerts and "Human Be-ins" at Golden Gate Park that became the backdrop for what became known as San Francisco's Summer of Love in 1967 at the height of anti-Vietnam War sentiment.
He was instrumental in helping to develop bands that delivered what became known as the San Francisco Sound. "Without Chet, there would be no Grateful Dead, no Big Brother and the Holding Company, no Jefferson Airplane, no Country Joe & the Fish, no Quicksilver Messenger Service," said Barry Melton, the lead guitarist for Country Joe & the Fish.
Nahum Sarna, 82, a biblical scholar who made translations of Scripture for modern readers, notably his work on the Jewish Publication Society's Torah (New Translation), died Thursday at his home in Boca Raton, Fla.
The death was announced by Brandeis University, where he was the Dora Golding professor emeritus of biblical studies. His writings, commentaries and translations sought to bring the meaning of ancient texts closer to the lay reader.
Some of his most important contributions were made through the Jewish Publication Society, based in Philadelphia, for which he was principal translator and editor of Torah (New Translation). First published in 1985, it remains in print.
Some of his other books published by the society were Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text With New JPS Translation (1989); JPS: The Americanization of Jewish Culture 1888-1988 (1989); Exodus: The Traditional Hebrew Text With the New JPS Translation (1991); and Studies in Biblical Interpretation (2000).
Peter Casserly, 107, Australia's oldest World War I veteran, who survived the bloody battles on the Western Front, died in his sleep Friday in a nursing home in Perth.
He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in March 1917, lying about his age to join the 5th Railway Section. He once said in an interview that he informed his mother of his decision in a message in a bottle that he dropped over the side of his troop carrying ship. The bottle washed up on a beach and someone mailed it to his mother.
During his time with the company, it supported British and Australian forces on the Western Front and was involved in many significant battles, including those in Ypres, Armentieres and Amiens. Australia now has two known surviving World War I veterans, both of whom are more than 100 years old.