Bill Shugarts March, 2021
Bill grew up in Swarthmore, PA outside of Philadelphia, graduating from Wilmington College, OH in 1967, married Edie Webster (his college sweetheart) and enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly thereafter. He was enlisted for a year being trained in Infantry, Armor (was a pretty good tank driver) and then, trained as a Combat Engineer at Engineering OCS at Ft. Belvoir in 1968. Upon graduation from OCS in August of 1968, Bill was commissioned as a Transportation Officer receiving additional branch training in Transportation & Port Operations. He was then was re-assigned to Ft. Knox, KY as a PIO (Public Information) Officer learning the job “O.J.T.”.
He arrived in Vietnam in August of 1969 and reported into a Transportation Unit at Cam Ranh Bay thinking he was going to do Cargo Operations. Bill found out he was in the wrong part of the country as his orders had been changed to the 23rd Infantry-Americal Division at Chu Lai in I-Corps. He then flew “up-country” reporting into the Americal’s “In-Country” Combat Center. He then received his unit assignment with the 23rd S & T Battalion, the main support unit to the entire division. Bill, as a 1st Lt. was ask to report directly to various LTC’s (Battalion Commanders) as they did not have enough Majors or Captains in the Battalion at that point to lead the running of re-supply convoys to all the forward firebases in the Americal’s AO.
Bill spent a year planning & running convoys and one morning was in a helicopter crash while doing command & control above a convoy in the Hiep Duc Valley. He is still not sure if it was mechanical failure or being shot down but he was lucky enough to survive the crash with minimal injuries but scaring the hell out of him. Thank God helicopters pilots are taught how to “auto rotate” the choppers. When it came time for the Officer Retention counseling session, Bill declined to stay in the Army as he did not want to press his luck. Upon returning stateside, he was assigned to a reserve unit and honorably discharged in 1971 with various medals & commendations including a Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters.
He then began a corporate career with Westvaco Corporation-a paper, packaging and chemical company in New York City. He spent 35 years with three Fortune 500 hundred companies in Senior Management - Westvaco, American Greetings, Reynolds/Alcoa and two privately owned companies as CEO- Fibre-Craft Material Corp. & Petersen-Arne/Accent Design.
Bill lost his first wife, Edie in December, 2003 to a horrible cancer. He was asked by Jan Scruggs to join Jan’s delegation back to Vietnam in February, 2004 which he did via his first trip back to Vietnam along with other Wall volunteers and was a life changing event.. Since then, Bill has joined other Veterans delegations going back to Vietnam and has led his own delegation in March 2015. Vietnam is now a vibrant country growing the way we expected back in the 1960’s now 50 years later but sadly at a cost of 58,000+ lives.
He married again in 2006 to Margene Sims who lost her husband as well in 2003 to cancer. Margene is a 30 year U.S. Army military wife so she knows the Armed Forces and the family sacrifices. Both Bill & Margene do volunteer work with the USO & other military and church oriented organizations.
Bill is also the owner of boutique consulting & business development company - TradeWinds, Inc. which he repositioned into professional photography specializing on the Military & Church Missions in Russia, Africa & Israel.
He is also a founding board member of No One Left Behind, Inc. helping Afghan Interpreters who saved America soldiers lives legally re-settle in the United States and Families of the Wounded Fund in helping combat wounded families. He also leads the Fawn Lake Veterans Group in Fawn Lake, VA.
Bill has been a volunteer at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial since March, 2007.