Ted Salisbury lived through the Great Depression, survived both World War II and the Korean War, having earned three Purple Heart medals, and is celebrating his 94th birthday this Wednesday.
It is on Wednesday when Salisbury has been invited by the Lodi Sunrise Rotary Club to share his personal story and his perspective on history with the Lodi community. He will be speaking at a luncheon at the American Legion Post 22 in Lodi at 12 p.m. Doors open at 11 a.m., and lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.
Salisbury was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Stockton, where he lives today. Life was tough during the Depression, but Salisbury said he didn’t think it was that bad until he compared that time with the life his children lived. His mother was killed by a drunk driver when he was 10, so he was raised primarily by his father.
Years later, it was the Pearl Harbor attack that spurred him to join the Marine Corps. He was soon sent to fight in the Pacific Theater in World War II. During that time, he fought in Guam and Iwo Jima — the site of the iconic flag raising — and fought in the battles of Guadalcanal and Bougainville.
He recalls having been on Iwo Jima for nine days until troops got clobbered by the Japanese Imperial Army. It was a nasty place, he said, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to make it through.
“I lost the last two men in my unit. I was the lone survivor in that squad,” he said.
In those fights in Guam and Iwo Jima, Salisbury was wounded twice, which he received two Purple Heart medals for when the war was over.
Upon returning home, he married and joined the Marine Corps Reserve, but conflict was on the horizon across the Pacific in Korea.
“Lo and behold, here comes another stinking war and I was called for active duty,” he said. He fought in several major Korean War battles and earned his third Purple Heart in Inchon. Following the Korean War, his career in the Marine Corps was over and he left active duty.
In his civilian life, he enjoyed spending 66 years married to the love of his life, Patricia, who died in 2011.
“She was the best lady I ever knew,” he said.
His accounts from war have been featured in documentaries such as “The Pacific” and “Iwo Jima” on PBS. In speaking with the community he offers a unique perspective as one of the Greatest Generation who are disappearing due to age.
Salisbury is looking forward to sharing the good and the bad that he has experienced in his life for any who would hear his story.
Tickets to the luncheon are $20 and proceeds will benefit the American Legion’s veterans programs. Anyone interested in attending is urged to purchase their tickets in advance by visiting www.lodisunriserotary.org, due to limited seating.