William Aumen “Bill” a rare American breed of warrior, joined the Army at age 17 with the permission of his parents. He entered Boot Camp at Ft Picket Va. in July 1950. His chosen MOS was Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD). His first assignment was to Korea and the 75th Infantry Division. In this 18 month deployment, Bill proved himself to be a combat soldier and earned a Bronze Star. In his words, “we fought from Pusan (at the bottom of Korea) to the Yalu River (border of China) and back to Pusan and then back to the 38th parallel. During this time, he was offered the Purple Heart which he turned down because, “there were men all around me with heads and arms and legs blown off, I didn’t feel I deserved it for the scratch on my hand.” The shrapnel was still in his left hand when he was buried 50 years later.
Bill returned home to Virginia and was assigned to Ft Meyer as a bomb disposal expert. During this time he dismantled Civil War ordinance from a local back yard and he was on call when a suspicious teddy bear was delivered to Caroline Kennedy. When x-rayed, it looked like a bomb with a power pack, motors and wires. Fortunately, Bill disassembled it, and it turned out to be a harmless gift from a young admirer.
In 1966, the Viet Nam War was heating up. Bill joined the 199th Light Infantry Regiment as a bomb disposal expert. He served his first tour based at Long Bin. His second tour ’68-’69 he was attached to the 1st Mar Div. He returned un-expectantly to the states when his wife suffered an automobile accident and then returned to Viet Nam attached to the 101st Airborne Div. Bill said this was his roughest tour. “We lost a lot of heroes during this time of some of the most difficult fighting of the war.” He returned to Viet Nam and was attached to the Special Operations Group. He was stationed in Saigon and wore civilian cloths and was transported by the CIA. He was on call as the duty bomb disposal expert.
When asked if there was anything he could say to sum up his service in the Army, He said, “I liked it. War is hell, but I happened to be one of the unfortunate ones who likes combat. If I was young enough I would volunteer to fight in the Iraq war.”
Bill Aumen is the consummate soldier, and soldiering must run in his genes. He and his wife Joy, produced two daughters, Colleen has two sons, both Marines. It is men like Bill and his grand sons who fight our nation’s battles to protect our way of life. Freedom isn’t free, in 2007 Faris Amra, Bills grandson was injured by an IED and lost a leg below the knee. Jay Amra is also a decorated Marine. The Aumen women, his wife joy, and his daughters Colleen and Karen supported their men in uniform and kept the family together during deployments. When Bill retired from the Army, he started a construction company. He became active in American Legion Post 10 , eventually becoming the commander.
A great story is told about Bill. Bill had a horse and he was telling his comrades about riding his horse to the post for a meeting. He was told by his companions that his horse would not be welcome at the post. Bill countered that his horse had as much right to be at the post as they did. The horse was a retired Calvary mount and had a DD-214. (Record of duty) required of all Legionaries. Bill rode his horse to the Legion and had him registered as a member.
The Freedom Museum salutes Bill Aumen, local hero from Manassas.