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Oral history interview of Bill Cumbaa. Interview conducted by Ryan Sosa, Maryna Checo, and Shannon Leavey at the Orlando Veterans Association


0:35 Born March 27, 1921; 0:48 Born in Columbus, GA; 1:34 Columbus High; 1:42 Emory University; 3:00 Joined Sigma Ki Fraternity at Emory University; 3:25 President of Fraternity; 5:15 Joined Marine Corp while at Emory - April 30, 1941; 7:20 OCS School - description of what it was; 8:40 Dec. 7, 1941 War in Japan; 9:40 Shipped to Paris Island; 10:24 OCS School; 11:15 ROC Reserve Officer Class as 2nd Lt.; 12:02 Sent to heavy machine gun school; 13:11 Sent to represent battalion; 14:15 Stationed at Pavuvu; 23:00 Morning routine at boot camp; 25:00 Commissioned as rifle platoon leader rather than machine fun platoon leader; 27:40 Brought out of platoon leader into intelligence for battalion after Okinawa; 31:24 Favorite weapon was Thompson machine gun; 32:20 His men called him "Wild Bill;" 38:00 His runner stepped on a land mine, had legs blown off, Bill Cumbaa on Okinawa; 41:20 Bill recommended his Corpsman, Archie for Silver Start; 45:15 Received two Purple Hearts after 2nd wound on Okinawa; 49:30 Women capable of workforce, coming to their own; 50:45 Engaged to his future wife for 2 years; 52:30 His future wife wrote him every day; 54:10 Came back home and got married; 54:53 Japan official surrender; 55:05 1st Marine Division sent to China to bring back Japanese; 56:30 Never had any trouble with the Japanese after official surrender; 58:00 Sent back to the U.S.; 58:48 As office ordered to inactive duty.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Columbus (Ga.)




White - Non Hispanic

Home State


War or Conflict

World War II



Begin/End date of Service - 1st


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Marines

Unit of Service

Second Platoon Fox Company, Second Battalion, Seventh Regiment, F27 First Marines

Location of Service

Peleliu Island (Palau); Palau; Okinawa Island (Japan)

Highest Rank

Captain; Capt

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury



Peleli; Okinawa


Purple Heart; Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Presidential Unit Citation


See video for details.


Not applicable

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Sosa, Ryan; Checo, Maryna; Leavey, Shannon

Interview Date


Location of Interview

RICHES office in Colburn Hall at University of Central Florida


Cumbaa, Bill; World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Marines

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Cumbaa, Bill; World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives; United States. Marines

Length of Interview

58 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida


Video; MovingImage


All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type