CRESAPTOWN, Md. — When William S. “Bull” Evans left his home in Cresaptown to join the U.S. Marines, he had no idea of what fate held in store for him.
There was no way he could imagine the dangers he would face serving his country or that his feats of heroism would one day earn him recognition as a “one man army.”
On Saturday, more than 70 years after Evans joined the U.S. Marine Corps, a section of U.S. Route 220 was dedicated in honor of his service to the country. Evans served 15 years in the Marines and is among the most highly decorated veterans in the region, earning four Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, Gold Star, two Presidential Citations and the Navy Cross.
Evans’ son William and his wife, Dianna, traveled from California to be in attendance for the dedication ceremony. William K. Evans was a just a toddler when his father died and has not been back to Western Maryland since he was a teen. The ceremony William Evans to reconnect with his family and learn more about his late father.
Additionally, one of “Bull” Evans’ fellow Marines, Jack Seward, made the trip with two of his children. Seward, now 91, has vivid memories of Evans both on and off the battlefield.
Seward said Evans had “an air of authority and confidence” that led people to follow him, but also demonstrated great concern for the welfare of his fellow soldiers.
Seward shared a story of a time that he escaped injury from an enemy bullet, but found himself with an uncomfortable shoe.
“The bullet went between the sole of the shoe, causing a bump that became pretty painful to walk on. One day, ‘Bull’ came up to me and asked what a I needed, and I told him about my shoe,” Seward said. “He came back a while later and had a pair of boots for me. Now I wore a 7 or 8, but ‘Bull’ with his dear little heart brought me back a pair of boots size 12.”
Seward said he and Evans both served in the First Marines Raiders, and often served side by side, forming an immediate and lasting friendship.
“I don’t think I would be here today if it were not for ‘Bull’. ‘Bull’ Evans was the greatest Marine I have ever known.”
While Seward was able to provide a more intimate look at Evans, the guest speaker for the event, Arthur Sharp, gave a comprehensive review of his 15 years of service.
Sharp, the editor of the Old Breed News, an official publication of the 1st Marine Division Association, called Evans “a Marine’s Marine.”
“Many wonder if their actions in life make a difference. ‘Bull’ did not have to wonder, he did make a difference,” Sharp said.
Sharp said Evans consistently demonstrated a sense of bravery rarely seen, noting that at one point in World War II, Evans spent 10 hours behind enemy lines, alone, in order to gather intelligence and information.
Evans enjoyed many successes during World War II, but at a great cost. He was injured several times, but always returned to battle, Sharp said.
At the conclusion of World War II, Evans was assigned to a base in Japan where he met his future wife, Chiyoko. The two fell in love, and despite military regulations forbidding marriages between soldiers and Japanese nationalists, they were married in a Japanese ceremony. Evans also welcomed Chiyoko’s young son into his family.
Additional restrictions would not allow Evans to bring his young family to the United States, so he lobbied to be reassigned to Japan. However, he was not able to secure the assignment that he so desperately sought.
Just months later, Evans received new orders with the beginning of the Korean War. Again, he demonstrated unusual bravery on the battlefield, Sharp said.
Sharp said during one event, enemy shelling hit several men in a mess tent. Though he was injured himself, Evans carried one of his fellow soldiers, who had been seriously wounded, to safety more than a mile into the mountains.
After sustaining more injuries, the Marine Corps decided it was time for Evans to take a break, sending him to a hospital in Japan and back to his young wife. He quickly recovered and was assigned to training new troops. This assignment allowed him to stay with his growing family.
Despite his new assignment, Evans faced health challenges from his many injuries and succumbed to a massive heart attack in 1954, Sharp said. He was 34.
He was cremated and his remains were interred in an American Military Cemetery near Yokohama.
Janet Evans Adams has extensively researched ‘Bull’ Evans’ life, providing details of his military career and personal life.
“I grew up hearing stories about Uncle ‘Bull.’ But I learned so much more about him. ‘Bull’ Evans exemplifies what it means to be part of the greatest generation. My hope is to share his story so that future generations can understand and appreciate the sacrifice he made for our country.”
Four area men worked to create the permanent memorial for ‘Bull’ Evans. Ron Miller, Terry Evans, James Stakem and Pete Martz said they were inspired by his service and bravery and felt it was imperative to somehow recognize Evans for his service to his country.
They worked with Janet Adams to complete a biography on Evans’ career and presented their request to the Western Maryland delegation. The Maryland Department of Transportation approved the request in March and in June signs on U.S. 220 near the Career Center and at the intersection with Winchester Road were erected in Evans’ honor.
“We started this mission more than a year ago and I am pleased to say the mission is accomplished,” Miller said.