Happy Birthday to Sgt Leon Gorsline, USMC. Jr Vice Commandant Tim McGee, Judge Advocate Ken Murray and I had the honor of attending a small birthday celebration for Sgt Leon Gorsline today.
Sgt Gorsline joined the Marine Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He trained at MCRD Parris Island, and Camp Lejeune, NC prior to his deployment to the South Pacific. He spent time training in Australia, which he fondly remembered and told us that he was just about to be married to a young Australian lass, but shipped out before that could happen. Then on to New Zealand to draw equipment and final preparation before the assault on Guadalcanal.
Leon related some of his experiences of the Guadalcanal invasion including descriptive commentary on personal encounters. When asked if he saw any hand to hand combat, Sgt Gorsline said “Well, there was a Jap in my foxhole with me one time. He didn’t make it home to Japan”. We exchanged sea stories of shipboard times and Leon’s eyes lit up. He said “the ship I was on got sunk, while we were in the boats going to the beach. A kamakazi crashed into it and it sank before our eyes.”
Following battle at Guadalcanal, Sgt Gorsline went to Peliliu. He stated that he “was only there for a couple of days, when they put me on my ass.” From there, he was returned to the States to recover and finish his Marine Corps enlistment. He continued his civilian life as a bartender and a full career at General Motors.
It was an honor for me to be with this Veteran of World War II and I will remember this day for a very long time. I presented Sgt Gorsline with a piece of artwork depicting the flag raising on Iwo Jima. He held it tightly the entire time we were there. To see his eyes and his smile when we spoke “Marine” to him completed the bond of the Marine Corps brotherhood.
It was Sgt Gorsline’s 92nd birthday and with tears forming, he told us it was his best birthday ever. I could not have asked for a better gift from him. Semper Fi Leon! You exemplify the Marine Corps ethos and spirit. God Bless you, sir.
Cpl Stanley L. Moore Detachment, MCL