World War II veteran encourages young recruits
Come August, Joseph Colwell turns 98 but he grabbed the attention March 31 of attendees at the Texans Embracing America’s Military after T.E.A.M. founder Ralph Oliver said, “I believe him to be the oldest retired U.S. Marine veteran from World War II.”
Not only did Colwell receive a standing ovation, but after the program people came up to him to thank him for his service and many people wanted to have their picture taken with him.
“We would have no way of confirming that Mr. Colwell is the oldest Marine veteran from World War II,” said Yvonne Carlock, deputy communications strategy officer Manpower & Reserve Affairs, U.S. Marine Corps, in an April 2 email. “We have no way of tracking whether or not veterans of our past conflicts are still living.”
Oliver said that Colwell served in the U.S. Marines from 1942-46 and was part of the Battle of the Midway and the Battle of Okinawa. Historians say the Japanese fleet suffered heavy losses during the Battle of the Midway and that the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II, is considered to be one of the bloodiest.
District 22 U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, called Colwell “a true, true American hero.” Olson said World War II veterans saved the world from tyranny.
Colwell, who lives near Jersey Village, also spoke to the Second Baptist Church-West Campus audience, which included recruits who have enlisted in the U.S. military and are headed to basic training.
In part, Colwell said, “They’re going to ask you recruits to do things you think are stupid and not connected with the military. Anything they have you doing is for a purpose usually related to discipline. One of these days it will register with you.”
Joining the U.S. Marines, he continued, “was probably the best thing I did in my life. It makes a man out of a boy in a hurry.”
Taking a challenge, wanting to broaden their education and become a better person, receiving health benefits and following a family tradition are among the reasons recruits gave for enlisting in the military.
Cameron Wall, 18, a Sealy High School graduate, said he was to leave April 1 for San Diego. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines with a focus on motor transport/mechanic/operator.
“I wanted to make a big start in my life and I love challenges,” said Wall.
Other U.S. Marine Corps recruits were Kristian Rojasmiller, Jessica Navarro, Noah Parrie and Trevor High. U.S. Army recruits included Gema Angono Bikie, Harry Kincaid, Tyra Martin and Kevin Cao.
Featured speaker Bill Hastings, retired Katy police chief, told the recruits, “This is one of the biggest decisions you’ve ever made in your life. It will change your life. It will better your life. You will grow up to be an amazing thing.”
He thanked families for their support of the young recruits and for instilling in them the values that make them want to serve their country.
“You’re in for the ride of your life,” Hastings said. “I admire every one of you for what you’re doing.”