Although Quilter said Law could fix anything that flew — and fly some of them during his long career in the Marines — Law was denied his biggest dream: an aviator’s commission.
Law was accepted at Flight School, but relinquished his spot to stay with his comrades as a teacher of the skills to maintain the planes so others could fly as safely as possible.
“Were it not for a few good men — to coin a phrase — young, barely trained maintenance crews could have been disastrous,” Quilter said.
On Guadalcanal, Law maintained equipment, mentored inexperienced Marines, flew as a gunner and sometimes co-pilot on transport planes.
After 2 ½ years of combat duty, he returned stateside and his flight school order was reinstated.
“He did well, but the war ended ... as he was about to make his final flight before getting his wings,” Quilter said. “And the Navy did a terrible, terrible thing. They canceled the flight training.
“Jim never got his wings of gold, but if there is any justice, he has them now.”
Law enlisted in the Marines at 17 — he lied about his age — served in World War II and in Korea in some of the bloodiest battles in which Marines ever engaged, such as the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and in the final days of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Base at El Toro.
He then transferred to the Fleet Marine Corps.
“Master sergeants don’t retire,” Quilter said. “They are one of the secrets to the success of the Marine Corps and you never know when you are going to need a good one.”
After his 30 years of active duty with the Marines, Law devoted his considerable talents to helping veterans and Laguna Beach, where he had owned a home since 1950.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Law never quite lost the accent, but his affection for Laguna came through loud and clear when he spoke at “The Walk,” to preserve the canyon, Quilter said.
“He made a difference, and all of us here have a big hole in our hearts. Semper fideles.”