Four area men honor world war's 'one-man Army' Evans
Cumberland Times News
CUMBERLAND — Four area men have embarked on a mission to share the story of a Cresaptown man they believe is worthy of a Hollywood movie and certainly deserving of a permanent memorial in honor of a soldier who came to be known as a “one-man Army.”
William S. “Bull” Evans was 16 years old when he withdrew from school to help with his family’s finances, becoming a house-painter. He soon realized that this was not the career path for him and with a little creative math, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Evans’ military career is filled with stories of bravery, but few know of his actions during World War II and the Korean War.
When Ron Miller began to research Evans’ record, he was quickly impressed by the level of valor demonstrated by Evans.
Miller contacted area historian Jim Stakem to assist with research. They also enlisted the aid of Pete Martz and Evans’ nephew Terry Evans. Relying on family stories, backed up by newspaper accounts and a historic account written by the late Fred Warner Jr., the group now has a more complete account of the young man who became a legend.
“Bull’s story is nothing short than that of a Hollywood film,” Stakem said. As an educator for more than four decades, Stakem has read about many brave soldiers but said few stories can rival that of Bull?Evans.
The following is a summary of Bull Evans’ exploits, based on Warner’s account.
Following basic training, Bull Evans was assigned to the unit that established the First Marine Garrison on Guam.
On his first furlough, Bull Evans found himself in Honolulu when Pearl?Harbor was attacked in 1941. He was among the first volunteers for the newly-organized Second Battalion, First Marine Raiders, a special operations force formed to in response to the attack.
Bull Evans’ unit was sent to Midway Island in June 1942 to stop the Japanese assault. He engaged in continuous action for more than 36 hours and there began stories that would soon make him a legend.
After their successful efforts, the Raider Battalion set their sights on Tulagi, where they encountered intense enemy fire.
When the unit found itself pinned down, Evans advanced alone to stop the enemy with a grenade attack. After witnessing the death of a fellow soldier, USMC Pfc. Woodrow Wilson Barr, Evans swore vengeance against the enemy.
Just days later, the battalion came ashore on Makin Island, and faced a yet another challenge. More than 350 Japanese soldiers were killed that day, nine at the hands of Evans during the firefight.
Bull Evans’ valor was just beginning and he yet again proved his mettle, at a battle near Guadalcanal.
Learning of a planned attack, he strung a length of barbed wire on their position front, preventing the attack and saving countless lives. This effort was not without cost and Evans sustained his first battlefield injury, as he was struck by shrapnel in the hip.
While not serious, the wound would trouble Evans throughout the rest of his life. The battles on Guadalcanal were called “a nightmare” and lasted nearly six months. It was during this time that he was promoted to sergeant.
In November 1943, the Raiders were assigned to fight with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, on the island of Bougainville.
While leading a rifle platoon, Bull Evans became pinned down by hostile artillery and, believing his entire platoon was in danger, he ordered them back, but continued forward on his own.
Sneaking his way to the enemy line, Evans plotted the location of the enemy’s bunkers and position and returned back to plan an assault that proved successful.
Advancing alone was not an isolated occurrence, and Evans once again penetrated the enemy’s position and was credited with killing more than 10 Japanese soldiers. Following these maneuvers, he became known as the “one-man Army.”
After a brief respite, Bull Evans returned to duty and reported to the island of Guam, where he fought to liberate the first captured American Marines of the war.
At the conclusion of the fighting in the Pacific, Evans was assigned to occupation duty in?Japan.
It was here that he met his future wife, Chiyoko Mawsoka, and a year later, they welcomed the first of two sons.
Unfortunately, his wife’s nationality prevented her and their son from accompanying Bull Evans to the States upon his new orders.
Evans immediately began efforts to return to Japan, but the best offer he could find would be an assignment in the Panama Canal region.
The peace was short-lived as the conflict in Korea continued to build. Bull Evans once again demonstrated his valor when he volunteered to join the 1st Marine Division when the fighting began in earnest.
Injuries sustained in earlier campaigns nearly sidelined Evans, but he signed a waiver allowing him to fight.
Just weeks later, he sustained a series of injuries and retired to a field hospital for a very brief recovery period, quickly returning to the front lines.
Bull Evans was once again wounded by machine-gun fire and shrapnel, resulting in 66 stitches in his chest, stomach and arm at a Japanese hospital.
Though thrilled to be temporarily reunited with his family, Evans was just as eager to return Korea following his recovery. His request was granted and he began assisting in the training of South Korean troops.
At the conclusion of the conflict, Bull Evans was assigned to a military police unit stationed in Japan, reuniting him with his family.
In letters to his mother, Evans wrote of a planned trip to the States in the spring of 1955, a trip he was never able to enjoy.
During an outing with his eldest son, along the beach of Yokosuka, Evans collapsed and died of cardiac failure on May 16, 1954.
Following his wishes, his young widow had him cremated and he was buried in the American Military Cemetery in Yokosuka.
In death, Bull Evans received the attention and praise he often shrugged off in life. His funeral was attended by high-ranking officials from both the U.S. and Japan, standing side-by-side with thousands of Marines.
In the course of a 15-year military career, Bull Evans amassed an impressive number of medals and awards, including the Purple Heart with four clusters; two Presidential citations; the Bronze Star; Silver Star; Navy Cross and many others.
“It is simply amazing the things he did for his country,” Martz said. “That bravery needs to be recognized.”
“We want to educate the public about the work of Bull Evans and all that he accomplished,” Miller said. “We would really like to see a permanent and lasting memorial created in his honor.”
Stakem said he believes Evans’ story needs to be shared and honored. “As a history teacher, I am concerned that young people are not being taught about men like Bull Evans, heroes who sacrificed everything for their country.”
“We would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have today if were not for men like Bull Evans and we believe that something needs to be done to honor the life and work of the ‘one-man Army,’” Miller said.
Contact Angie Brant at email@example.com.