Tuesday, March 28, 2023

A Ukiah Teen Tells the Story of a Korean War Veteran from the North Coast

This story was composed by 13-year-old Ukiah teen Garrett Weaver to honor the life and sacrifice of William Burnett Tregoning, a veteran of the Korean War. Garrett’s writing is part of Wreaths Across America’s efforts to recognize the men and women who served the United States. Kudos to Garrett for his wonderful writing and thank you for being willing to share.

Burnett in Korea posing in his uniform [All photographs and captions from William Tregoning and provided to us by Garrett Weaver]

William Burnett Tregoning—who goes by Burnett—was born in April 1933. In 1950 he graduated from high school at the age of 17, too young to be eligible for the draft, which was becoming extremely active as the result of the start of the  Korean Conflict. Being too young to be drafted into the armed services at that time, he began his journey as a college student at Santa Rosa Junior College and then to UC Berkeley, studying his passion for journalism.  

Tregoning graduated from UC Berkeley in 1954 with a degree in journalism and a  desire to express himself through words. The Korean Conflict came to an end in  1953 and, as soon as he graduated from UC Berkeley his draft status changed from 2S to 1A. He knew he would be serving soon.  

Passionate about his relationship with his girlfriend Marilyn Holmes and knowing he would soon depart, he asked her to marry him and they married on June 27 of that year. Tregoning felt that he owed it to his country to serve and he would be proud and honored to do so.  

On October 27 Tregoning departed for basic training at the U. S. Army base at  Fort Ord near Monterey, Calif. After basic, he moved on to Clerk Typist School. He was then shipped off to Korea and assigned to the 7th Infantry Division Public  Information Office (PIO).  

During his 16 months in Korea, Tregoning had many interesting experiences. He faced a scary moment while writing a story about the 7th Division Aviation  Company. He went for a flight with an Aviation Company lieutenant and when they returned to the landing strip, they hit the ground so hard that the rear skid broke off and they had a very unsafe landing.  

One of the most enjoyable experiences that he had while serving in Korea, was when he was on R & R (Rest and Relaxation). He got to travel via plane to Japan every six months for this downtime. While there, Tregoning visited the Bayonet  

Taking notes during the visit of the 1st Corps commanding general (3 stars) and the Secretary of the Army to a 7th Division Post Exchange in Korea. Tregoning wrote an aticle about the visit for the Stars & Stripes and the 7th Division weekly newspaper, The Bayonet.  

Newspaper office in Tokyo where they produced the 7th Division’s weekly newspaper. He was so excited and surprised to see a buddy that he had gone to 

school with at Santa Rosa Junior College in the hallway of the same building. His buddy, also a journalism student, was on the staff of the Stars & Stripes, Pacific  Edition.  

Luckily, while awaiting assignment in the 7th Division’s Replacement Depot, his journalism degree was noticed by the Public Information Office as they needed a  correspondent. Tregoning began helping the Army in this department by writing articles for the Division’s weekly newspaper as well as stories for Stars & Stripes.  The 7th Division PIO also did radio interviews that were aired in hometown stations on their local radios. He was happy to be able to tell the soldiers’ stories and experiences while serving their country. He served for two years.  

In 1956 Tregoning’s enlistment was complete, and he returned to San Jose where his wife was living. He knew he wanted to start his life with Marilyn and his career in journalism. Marilyn had kept a scrapbook full of the articles that he wrote during his time as an Army correspondent, which he used to good advantage to get his first civilian job in the field of journalism.  

Soon after arriving home, Tregoning, eager to start his career, drove up from San  Jose to the Berkeley Journalism Department to see if there were any job openings. They didn’t have any but on his drive home to San Jose, someone had spread the word about his desire and a new opportunity arose. He received a call  as soon as he walked through the door from an Editor of a San Francisco-based trade magazine who was looking for an Assistant Editor.  

Tregoning is checking notes with a radio interview guy in the 7th Division Public Information Office (PIO).

Tregoning, after impressing the editor with the scrapbook full of his 7th Division articles, was hired and served as Assistant Editor and later as Editor for Western Farm Equipment. In 1969 he joined the staff of the Purchasing Management  Association of Northern California where he served as Manager and Editor of the organization’s monthly magazine, Pacific Purchaser.  

Later he started his own business, Pacific Publishing Services, moving his office from San Francisco to his hometown of Mill Valley. He has been retired for almost  25 years now, but he still keeps his hand in the field of journalism. These days he is the editor of The Mill Wheel, the bi-monthly newsletter of the Rotary Club of  Mill Valley. He also writes wonderful holiday newsletters and is a grandfather to seven and great-grandfather to 13. 

Please join me in honoring Mr. Tregoning along with many other veterans.  

This year, the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony for our location will be shared on Saturday, December 17th, 2022 at 9 AM. 

All sponsored veteran wreaths in 2022 will be placed throughout the day on Saturday,  December 17th, by volunteers who have either come to our ceremony or signed up to  participate. This year’s Wreaths Across America theme is ‘Find a way to serve”. To join us in  laying veteran wreaths, please visit our official Wreaths Across America webpage at  https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/17815 to sign up for a specific time slot by clicking the  red Volunteer button. If you have special requests, please contact the volunteer Location  Coordinator at RRCD@PACIFIC.NET or (707) 462-8012 to make those arrangements. 


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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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