MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The “Walking Dead” now have a “Walking Stick.”
Lance Cpl. William G. Wilson, a rifleman with 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, received a polished cedar wood stick during a Marine Corps League meeting in Mount Laurel, N.J. Oct. 7.
Bobby Applebaum, a Company C veteran with the Marine Corps League, presented the “Deadwalking Stick” to Wilson as a gift from a retired “Deadwalker” to an active duty “Deadwalker.”
Wilson described the moment as an emotional transfer of a symbolic item before a full room of Marines.
“I think (Applebaum) was probably picturing himself around my age,” said 21-year-old Wilson. “He’s gone to war, so he might’ve been getting flashbacks,” he added.
“I asked him later what his (military occupational specialty) was and what he did in the Corps so I could come back and tell the battalion about him,” Wilson said. “He just said, ‘I was a grunt’, and walked away. That was it.”
After Wilson received the stick, the retired “Devil Dogs” applauded and gave celebratory cheers.
“The veterans gave me a big ‘oorah’ when I held it up in the air and told them I’m going to present this to my battalion and bring it with us everywhere we go including Iraq,” Wilson said.
Wilson, keeping true to his word, brought the stick here while the Marines participate in Mojave Viper, a 30-day predeployment exercise. During the month-long training, Wilson said he hopes the battalion will start a new tradition with the stick.
“I hope the battalion makes it a tradition, but it hasn’t gotten past my platoon sergeant or platoon commander yet,” Wilson said. “I wanted to bring it to the battalion commander originally. That’s what I told all the guys in the league when they presented the stick to me.”
Wilson’s grandfather, Bill Wilson, who is also a retired Marine, said he believes the stick gives the Marines a great opportunity to develop their own traditions as a recently reactivated battalion.
“It’s very important for them to make their own traditions because the Vietnam Marines had their own traditions,” Bill Wilson said. “The new 1/9 should also have their traditions.”
Although the battalion is still becoming familiar with the stick, 1st Platoon quickly embraced the symbolic item as another piece of battalion memorabilia.
“(The stick) brings the platoon a sense of pride,” said Cpl. Brian Peace, 2nd squad leader with the platoon. “We take it everywhere we go.”
The Marines are now trying to decide the best way to implement a new tradition involving the “Deadwalking Stick”.
“We’re thinking about passing it down from platoon to platoon,” Peace said.