Date of birth: Sept. 12, 1927
Dates of service: 1945 to 1946
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Rank: Ship Fitter 3rd class
Unit and specialty: USS West Virginia
Lives in: Clovis
In his words: Gilliland enlisted in the Navy right after high schools. “I was coming up on age 18 and I knew I was going to be drafted. I went in and signed up for the Navy because I wasn’t too enthusiastic about going into the infantry.”
Gilliland was assigned to the USS West Virginia, which re-entered the Pacific theater after it had been sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
His duty as a pipe-fitter was “to go around all over and repair anything that needed to be repaired.”
Having worked in an auto body shop during high school, he said the skills he had assisted him in his new position with the military.
The fighting was drawing to an end as he began his service, and their ship took part in transporting men home from the battlefields. The mood among the men returning home was good, “most of them was happy to be coming home, there was a lot of laughing and joking and cutting-up going on,” he said.