The first of Decatur’s war dead—Second Lt. William C. Culp of the Second Marine Division, who fell at Tarawa on Nov. 20, 1943—was escorted home for burial Saturday by a former “leatherneck” buddy, Capt. A. K. Edmonds, who was with him on many Pacific beachheads, and who still is a member of the Second Marine Division.
The body of Lieutenant Culp arrived here Saturday at 2:22 p.m. aboard the Wabash “Banner” from Chicago, and was met by Mayor James A. Hedrick, the city commissioners, honor guards from V.F.W. Posts 99 and 1245; the American Legion post; American Vets Post 62 and the Marine Corps League, besides members of the deceased’s family and friends. They accompanied the body to the Monson Funeral Home where it will rest until graveside services with military honors are conducted Monday at 10 a.m. in Greenwood Cemetery, where both of Lieutenant Culp’s parents are buried.
The graveside services Monday will be in charge of the funeral home, the various military organizations, and will include a personal tribute by Wyeth Willard, assistant to the president of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., who formerly was Lieutenant Culp’s chaplain. Lieutenant Culp during one year of his service was Chaplain Willard’s assistant.
Mr. Willard will be remembered as the author of the recent well known book: “The Leathernecks Come Through.” He conducted the military funeral services for Lieutenant Culp shortly after he was killed on Tarawa, and is credited with having discovered his body shortly after his death.
Lieutenant Culp’s body has been interred in the Oahu Schofield Barracks, Mausoleum No. 1, temporary military cemetery in Hawaii. It arrived in San Francisco on Oct. 10 aboard the Honda Knot, along with several thousand other bodies, which were the first to be returned from the Pacific Theater. From San Francisco it was sent to Chicago, along with other Illinois casualties, and placed in charge there of Captain Edmonds, who escorted it here yesterday.
Lieutenant Culp was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Culp of Decatur. He leaves a sister, Mrs. John W. Goodrum of West Palm Beach, Fla., who came here a few weeks ago expecting the body’s arrival sooner, and has since returned to Florida and will be unable to be here for the services Monday.
He leaves also one aunt, Miss Alice Culp, and several cousins, all residing in Decatur.
Lieutenant Culp was a graduate of St. John’s Military Academy, Saline, Kan., in 1940. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1939 and received “boot” training at San Diego.
In 1943 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps while on duty at Wellington, N. Z.
He was awarded four honorary medals posthumously. They included the Purple Heart, for military merit and wounds which resulted in his death; the President’s Unit Citation, awarded to the First Marine Division for action against the enemy in the Solomon Islands; the American Defense Service Medal with base clasp for service in Cuba during the emergency, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal for service in that area. The medals were awarded to his sister, Mrs. Goodrum.
A road at Camp Goodnews, Forest Dale, Cape Cod, Mass., was christened in honor of Lieutenant Culp as “The Wm. C. Culp Road,” by the Society for Christian Activities.