World War II veteran Sam Bayless, a Hometown Hero - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

World War II veteran Sam Bayless, a Hometown Hero


Samuel Bayless and his best friend Chuck were inseparable growing up.

"We would camp out. We learned how to make chisels and screw drivers. We went to school together. We just did everything together," said Bayless, 92.

And like all close friends, he said they would get into it a time or two.

"He was my best friend. Of course we had some squabbles too.  We shoved each other over the preacher's daughter and stuff like that," Bayless said laughing.  

When the pair got old enough, Chuck convinced him to join the Marine Corps with him.

"We took the exam for the Marines and he passed but I had flat feet and they wouldn't take me," Bayless said.

So instead, Bayless was drafted into the Army Air Force in 1942 and the duo went their separate ways. But they were sure they would see each other very soon. 

Then Bayless got news of the unimaginable.

"He was killed over in Palau and I probably would have gone with him if I passed (the test)," he said.

He says Chuck, along with a thousand other Marines, landed on a Palau beach but the Japanese soldiers were well prepared.  

"Boats took them in and let them off on the beach. But then the Japanese were waiting for them," said Bayless.

"It was a shock. I just had a guilty feeling that what happened to him didn't happen to me."

Bayless says if he could have one last moment with Chuck he knows exactly what he would say.

"I would say I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him for defending our country."

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