Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A plaque dedication ceremony was held honoring the late, retired Sgt. Maj. Ray Wilburn, November 10, 2022, at Freedom Plaza, Twentynine Palms.
“He would be so humbled.” said Sharron Erdmann, daughter of Wilburn. “He loved the Marine Corps, this was his life.”
Retired Sgt. Maj. Wilburn served 32 years of honorable and faithful service in the Marine Corps. Wilburn took part in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
He entered WWII as a Sergeant with the 3rd Artillery Battalion, 10th Marine regiment and fought in the Soloman Islands, Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Tulagi. He survived enemy fire, the sinking of the Seminole, and five bouts of malaria. By the end of the war, he had earned the rank of Gunnery Sergeant.
When the Korean war started, he used his experiences from the second world war to train marines at Camp Del Mar, California. Afterwards he served with the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines. Where he distinguished himself with his bravery while under enemy artillery fire.
In the Vietnam War he served as the Sergeant Major of the 1st Medical Battalion. According to his commanding officer Capt. Jim Sharp, “He’s one of the best sergeants major the Marines Corps ever had."
After his service he stayed in Twentynine Palms and worked as the advertising manager for the Desert Trail and was a beloved member of the community.
“A lot of people say, you see Marines in their dress blues, you think Marine Corps when I see the uniform, I think of Sgt. Maj.” said Steven Bilderain, city councilman and friend of Wilburn, “He made that uniform everything it’s supposed to be, honor, courage, commitment. He lived his life like that.”
In 2018, a gym at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center was named after him to honor his service.