Judge Warren Bettis of Salem was selected as honorary parade marshal of this year's Salem Memorial Day event.
The Memorial Day parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday. In the event of inclement weather, the memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. the Kent State University City Center.
Judge Bettis, a disabled World War II veteran, was born in Salineville on Oct. 24, 1924. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 1943 and spent boot camp at San Diego, Calif. His advanced individual training was spent in Big Isle, Hawaii, as an infantryman. Judge Bettis recalls the long hard days of training that were required to make young boys into teams of efficient fighting soldiers in preparation for the war with Japan. He has excellent memories of the 40-mile marches, coupled with exercises and discipline that were used to attack and destroy simulated "pill boxes." After completing his training, Judge Bettis was assigned to the 5th Marine Division, 26th Regiment.
On Feb. 19, 1945, nearly 30,000 U.S. Marines pushed ashore at Iwo Jima in what was to be one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. More than 2,500 Marines would be killed or wounded that first day and nearly 20,000 fanatic Japanese were to give their lives in the attempt to stem the invasion. Shortly after the fighting began, PFC Bettis was shot in the face on March 1, 1945, and he was then transferred to hospitals in Guam and later Honolulu. When all resistance came to an end on March 25, nearly 6,000 Marines had perished and more than 17,000 were wounded.
We are reminded of this great sacrifice when we see a picture of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima. After recovering from his injuries, Judge Bettis was sent back to Japan where he served on the point. When the atom bombs ended the war, he served three months with the occupational forces before returning to the United States where he was given an honorable discharge in March 1946. He is highly decorated and has received numerous U.S. and allied awards and decorations. Although he is a disabled veteran, the judge was active and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans in Salineville.
Judge Bettis graduated from The Ohio State University, Xavier University and Chase University with a law degree. He has served with the P.U.C.O. from 1963-1965, Columbiana County Prosecuting Attorney 1965-1971, Common Pleas Judge 1971-1986. After his retirement, he served as disciplinary counsel in Columbus, Ohio for seven years.
Although he was happily married for 66 years, his wife is deceased and he is the proud father of three children and five grandchildren.