Sgt Maj. William Edward Steigerwald, passed away into Jesus open arms on March 22,2020. He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 yrs, Mary Katherine. They were devoted to each other.
William, 'Bill' was born in Dayton, Kentucky on May 2, 1925 to parents: Frank & Stella Steigerwald during the height of the Great Depression; Bill was the youngest of 6 children. (His sisters were, Francis, Mildred & Rita, his brothers were, Elmer & Ray, all of whom have passed.) When he was young, Bill remembers being 'dirt poor' often having nothing to eat. He learned discipline at his parochial & all boys Catholic High School, where they had a boxing team which he joined & was given the nickname of "Wild Bill".
In his Jr. year Bill was elected the vice-president of his class & elected president of his senior class.
SgtMaj William E Steigerwald, enlisted into the Marine Corps in 1943 at 17 yr's of age, since WWII broke out. After basic training he was sent for training in Radar Operations. He was sent overseas to New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands & Okinawa, Japan.
Bill was one of 'The Greatest Generation', who served this Country during WWll in the Pacific & hit the beach at Okinawa, Japan.
(God watched over him in battle, as he was facing an enemy soldier. The soldier fired 1st but his gun jammed. Bill's gun did not. Another was when a mortar shell landed near Bill but it did not go off.) By the Grace of God, he survived 28 months in 2 main battles & was sent to North China where he witnessed the signing of surrender of Japan to China. Upon returning to the US he re-enlisted and was again sent for additional training, Drill Instructor & Radio Operator training. He spent 13 months in 2 deployments in Korea during the battle between N.Korea & S.Korea as Division Radio Chief before being transferred to Camp Lejeune, NC. He was also on one of the ships facing Cuba during the missile crisis.
In 1959, after 16 yrs. in the Marine Corps, he was promoted to Sargent Major (SgtMaj), the highest rank for any enlisted Marine.
Sgt.Maj spent 8 more yr.’s stationed at the Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment, in Memphis, TN, & reluctantly decided to retire due to the 13-month deployments he was away from his wife & family.
Sgt.Maj, retired in 1967 after 24 yr.’s serving in the Marine Corps. In 1969 he joined the Marine Military Academy & spent another 34 yrs. which included Alumni Director at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX.
In 1971 he became SgtMaj of the school.
He spent most of his time at MMA helping cadets & DI's & was the coach of the boxing team as well as the PFT (Physical Fitness Training). MMA's PFT qualified for the Nationals in Washington, DC. for 5 years. He was so proud when his son, Stephen, won the top individual award & a $2,000 scholarship in '73. SgtMaj had 2 sons, William (Bill), graduate in '72 & Stephen (Steve) in '73. His 3 sons enlisted into the Marine Corps & Air Force after graduating school as well as 1 of his daughters.
In 1952 SgtMaj married Mary Bowen whom he met in Cincinnati on leave. They had 5 children - William David in '53, Stephen James in '55, Rita Marie in '56, Catherine Louise in '58, and Christopher Paul in '62. As they grew they married & had children. William & Jeannette had Shelly & Julie; Stephen & Betty's kids are Amy, Stephen, & Gabrielle; Rita & Gerald Taylor have Carl & Jonathan; Catherine & Paul had 7 boys Adam, Peter, Issac, Benjamin, Paul, Seth, & Luke; Christopher has 2 girls with Lisa Beth, Celia & Mary Grace plus 3 more girls with Shauna, Arianna, Zoe, & Jubilee.
SgtMaj & Mary were also proud of their 18 grandchildren & several great-grandchildren & still growing.
SgtMaj William Edward Steigerwald mellowed as the grandchildren came & was better known by all for his Smile & Laughter. He was a fisherman, an artist, a writer, a gardener,a coach, a Marine, SgtMaj., a husband, a Dad & a devoted Catholic. He was loved by hundreds. We will miss All of him.
Due to current restrictions on gatherings, a memorial and celebration will be at a later date, to be determined.
Anyone desiring to make a memorial donation may make it to the National Right of Life, 1446 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314 or www.nrlc.org.
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