He remembers charging up a hill in Korean in 1952. Staff Sergeant William “Denny” Weisgerber was ordered to “take the hill.”
But his platoon of Marines was forced to retreat after heavy enemy gunfire. Down the hill, Denny noticed one of his Marines did not make it down with him.
“I was the man in charge of that platoon,” Denny told me at his Milpitas home, his voice cracking. “Those were my men, and that guy left on that hill was one of mine. I could have sent those three guys to get him, but that wasn’t their job. It was mine.”
Denny put the wounded Marine in what he called a fireman’s carry, and carried him down the hill, until a mortar sent both Marines to the ground.
He lost his Marine, and his leg.
For his bravery, Denny earned the Navy Cross, and his commander put him up for promotion to Gunnery Sergeant.
But the Marines instead issued Denny a medical discharge.
Now, almost 60 years later, Denny will receive a rare, honorary promotion. South Bay Congressman Mike Honda pushed for the honorary promotion, and will pin Denny on Saturday in San Jose, and issue him his Gunny Stripes.
“We’re happy to do something for someone like you,” Honda told Denny via telephone. Denny says he waved any pay compensation that would be owed to him with the retroactive promotion.
It’s not the money he wants. It’s the stripes.
His voice cracked again when Denny told me, “when they put me in that box, I want those Gunnery Stripes on my sleeve.”
William “Denny” Weisgerber will get his wish on behalf of a grateful nation.