Iwo Jima War Veteran Marine Raider Honored in Alpine California by Former Student
Howard E. “Buck” Stidham (1918-2002) was honored Friday, November 3, 2006 at two o’clock at the East Victoria Estates Housing Development in Alpine with a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the new county road, Buck Stidham Drive, named after the former World War II, Korean War veteran and former Granite Hills High School Wood Shop teacher.
Doug Wilder, Owner and President of JD Wilder Construction, Inc. was Stidham’s wood shop student during his high school years and credits the former teacher with guiding him to his present career. Stidham recommended Wilder(1981 Granite Hills Graduate)as a student intern to Mr. Dick Rempp, owner of Rempp Cabinet Shop in El Cajon. From cabinets, Wilder went on to pursue a degree in Construction Engineering Management at California State University, Sacramento, and started his own company eighteen years ago.
“Over the years since Buck’s death, I have reflected on the influence this man had on my life. Later when I had an opportunity to name a new street in my latest development, I thought it was only fitting to name it after Buck.”
The Former Marine Raider Stidham enlisted in the Marine Corps in the 1930’S at the age of 17 and served three years.
He re-enlisted at the outbreak of World War II and fought on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Bougainville. He was a member of The Marine raiders, the elite commandos who volunteered to operate behind enemy lines.
In August of 1942, He took part in the Makin Raid, designed to slow the Japanese advance in the Pacific by diverting troops from Guadalcanal. In that action, Raiders disembarked from two submarines off Makin Atoll in The Gilbert Islands, known today as Kiribati, and went ashore on boats to attack a Japanese Seaplane Base.
Stidham described the ensuing battle as a “Big Military version of the OK Corral,” in which troops lined up across a narrow strip of land and shot at each other from close range. With the then-Major James Roosevelt, President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, they paddled through heavy surf to get back to the subs after the raid.
“Buck” was promoted to Lieutenant during the battle of Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism. He also served in the Korean War and retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1958.
In 1960 “Buck” started a new career as a high school Woodshop teacher at Granite Hills in El Cajon. It wasn’t quite as dangerous as his military career, although watching over teenage boys with power tools was not exactly tame. He spent twenty years guiding the youth as they constructed various projects in the wood shop and finally retired in 1980.
His wife, Beth Stidham, cut the ribbon officially opening the road and paying tribute to a hero, a dedicated teacher and a good man.
(For more information: Contact Doug Wilder at 619-980-0246 or 619-722-1157 or contact by E-mail: Doug@jdwilder.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)