(WNY News Now) – North Tonawanda, NY, prepares to honor William “Bill” Gosch, a proud Marine Corps veteran from the Greatest Generation, on his 100th birthday, recognizing his heroic service in WWII and contributions to the community.
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – They are hailed as “The Greatest Generation,” and among them stands William “Bill” Gosch, a living testament to the valor and sacrifice that defined an era. Born on December 8, 1923, Gosch, a North Tonawanda native, proudly served his country during World War II, contributing to the Allied victory in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theatres.
Joining the Marine Corps in 1942 fresh out of North Tonawanda High School at the age of 18, Private First Class Gosch embarked on a journey that led him through four combat missions. From the grueling battles of Guadalcanal to becoming a member of the elite special forces team, Carlson’s Raiders – 2nd Raider Battalion, during the Bougainville campaign, his service extended to the U.S. possession of Guam, and culminated in the intense combat of Okinawa.
The Okinawa invasion, involving 60,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines, played a pivotal role in the Pacific War, lasting nearly three months until June 23, 1945. Gosch’s courageous efforts contributed to the overall success, although more than 12,000 American lives were lost during the brutal fighting.
On December 9, 2023, family and friends will gather at the Knights of Columbus, 755 Erie Avenue, North Tonawanda, from 4 pm to 7 pm, to celebrate Bill Gosch’s remarkable 100th birthday. The event will feature a special highlight as Sergeant Major Brett Sheuer (Retired) of the U.S. Marine Corps presents eight long-overdue medals, including the Navy-Marine Presidential Unit Commendation Ribbon and the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.
Adding to the festivities, Rep. Brian Higgins’ office will present a Congressional Record document, and North Tonawanda Mayor Austin Tylec will honor Gosch with an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol. The Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group will also pay tribute with a traditional Flag Ceremony.
Gosch, affectionately known as the “Original Mr. Fix-It,” returned to North Tonawanda after the war and, despite facing numerous challenges, built a fulfilling life. A scholarship allowed him to play football for Niagara University, where he graduated in 1950 and married Lois Kothan. Bill’s resilience and work ethic were evident as he held various jobs, including serving as a temporary Alderman for the North Tonawanda City Council at the age of 97 in 2020.
Post-retirement in 1979, Gosch and his wife Lois relocated to Oahu, Hawaii, where they spent their seasons dealing in costume jewelry. Despite the distance, they returned to North Tonawanda every May for 26 years until Lois’s passing in 2022.
Well-regarded in the community, Gosch has been a fixture in local parades, earning national recognition through interviews by WWII veteran documentarian Rishi Sharma and TV producers Eric Roberts and Andrea Reeves, who produced a pilot episode dedicated to the “Hidden Heroes of WWII.” Kate Snow of NBC Nightly News also featured him, showcasing the impact of his Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight in 2022.
As North Tonawanda prepares to honor Bill Gosch’s centennial, his front porch on Goundry Street remains a gathering place for neighbors and passersby eager to hear the captivating stories of a true American War Hero.
“We are grateful to Dad and all Veterans for their service, especially those here with us today. We never knew
much about his time in the war until a few years ago – then the floodgates opened. His many stories confirm that
the “Greatest Generation” was just that and we’re all here today because of it”, said his family. “God Bless Dad
and God Bless America”.