Freedom Fighters: Bill Mullins - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Bill Mullins

(KLTV) -

Bill Mullins of Mineola, Texas, joined the navy at age 17. He was right out of high school. He was to earn five battle stars as a crewman aboard the U.S.S. Maryland.

The Maryland took part in some of the fiercest battles in the Pacific, including Tarawa, Kajalein, Saipan Ley Gulf, and Okinawa. During the Battle of Saipan, she took torpedo damage, and was hit by kamikazis at Leyte Gulf and Okinawa. It wa a Kamakazi that killed Mullins' best friend. Another Kamikazi attack killed 31 men and wounded 30.
 
"Every night he came through and dropped a torpedo somewhere. Well, he happened to drop and hit the Maryland, knocked the bow off. He killed one man, my best friend," Mullins said. "The most memorable battle that I want to relate about; there was five old battleships and we sank the whole Japanese fleet down in the Philippines."

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, where the Maryland, California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and West Virginia ambushed Japanese battleships was a great victory for the U.S. Navy. 

Mullins was discharged from the navy in 1945 but reenlisted in 1946 for three more years.

"I was one of 30 guys that went back. They called us the "dirty thirty," he recalled.

Bill Mullins, who is 91 now, says he still misses his days aboard the U.S.S. Maryland. "I wish I was still there," he told me.

Copyright 2015 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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