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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.


0:11 Introduction – he states his name and rank; 0:30 Life before joining the marines – family, boy scouts, university; 1:52 Reasons for joining the Marines – his best friend, joined as an office; 5:38 Was there an assumption you would go to war? – No, nothing serious; 6:02 Meeting his wife. Explaining picture frame with his wife’s picture; 9:22 Being assigned to the Pacific theater—1st division, Pavuvu; 11:28 Military operations – Peleliu, caves system, Rifle platoon; 13:00 Awards received during the war 00 multiple silver stars, purple star; 17:15 Post war—ordered to China to repatriate the Japanese; 21:15 Homecoming 00 Christmas Eve, uncontrollably shaking momentarily; 23:22 Combat stories Peleliu D-Day operations, stuck at the line of departure; 31:34 Lead his platoon through jungle—sounded by Japs, suicide bombers; 35:00 Targeted a cave, 52 Japanese ran out of cave, hidden ammunition; 38:05 His missions helped end Banzai attacks on Peleliu; 41:35 Friendships in the Marines; 42:49 As of April, he would have been a Marine for 70 years; 43:16 Paper from Honolulu, Hawaii, declaring War after the Pearl Harbor attack; 43:50 Possessions – a copy of the Japanese surrender, certificates, articles; 44:56 Cornerstone of Peace in Okinawa – a piece of papers with his men’s names rubbed on it; 46:00 Presidential citations; 47:11 Ship named Peleliu—returns to Peleliu for military anniversaries celebrations of landing on Peleliu in WWII; 48:28 Interview with Oliver North – General Ray Davis; 53:40 Emergency replacement for the Pope’s speech – "speak from your heart"; 56:25 Pope thanks Bill for stepping in for him; 58:00 Ryan thanks Bill for the interview, the interview ends

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, 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

Orlando Veterans Association


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


Sosa, Ryan; Checo, Maryna; Leavey, Shannon

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