Military stories from past to present, both wars.

66th Anniv of Iwo Jima

February 22nd, 2011 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

This week marks the 66th Anniversary of the invasion of Iwo Jima and a battle that would claim thousands of lives.  I have been blessed in my life to meet many people including veterans of Iwo Jima and some of their children.  One of those kids, a daughter of a Seabee veteran, 31st NCB, attached with the 5th Marine Division, is one of many wanting to keep the history alive and serves on the board of Iwo Jima Association of America (http://www.iwojimaassociation.org/docs/IJAANewsletter2010Fall.pdf) . 

We met via the internet years ago when I wrote a story about James A Michener, my mentor and a veteran of the battle.  Diane, the Seabee daughter aka Seabee Queen II, along with John Butler, whose father was batt CO 1/27 and KIA on Iwo March 1945 and Kevin Jarvis, son of Marine Iwo vet combat engineer organized the Friday night event at the annual IJAA Iwo Jima reunion. 

For some great pictures and stories of these Iwo vets, visit www.wwiigyrene.com, run by by Navy corpsman veteran Mark Flowers.  Most of these gentlemen are in their eighties and nineties with some peacefully passing away monthly.   after a long day that included a statue dedication with funds raised by the 5th Marine Division called “BAR on the Beach” down at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico VA. 

 Saturday was an all day educational seminar about the battle featuring Col. Dick Camp, Major General Nodomi, speaking about the Japanese defenses of  Iwo and Pat Mooney of the USMC Museum staff. A panel of Iwo Jima veterans sharing some of their 66 year old memories of their time on the rock concluded the day long seminar.

Saturday night General Kelly was the Keynote speaker (if you remember, he lost his son in Afghanistan this summer) and an incredible addition to the line up including a few of the Iwo Jima Battalion CO’s Gerry Russell (age 97) and Dick Rothwell (age 99). The WWII veterans were once again  young Marines as they listened to the big band sounds of the 10 piece Radio Kind Orchestra and took to the dance floor with the enthusiasm as they did 66 years ago.

If you have a young teen in CAP , Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, JrROTC, I highly encourage you to have them start a project to interview these gents.  They have incredible stories to tell that need to be documented.  I thank all the vets I had the honor meeting and my new future Marine Michael Scott who had his classmates write letters of thanks to the vets in an impromptu “Mail Call.”

For those of you interested in reading up on the battle of Iwo Jima I have some suggestions for you. 

Founder of IJAA and past president, General Fred Haynes who passed away last spring, tells a gripping account of the 28th Marines in ” The Lions of Iwo Jima”

Ray Elliott, wrote a book called “ Iwo Blasted Again” this is fiction but based around numerous interviews with actual veterans. talespress@talespress.com

AAC  P51 pilot Jerry Yellin, was selling his book about flying escort missions from the island.  A fascinating look into why we took the island and the long missions they flew as cover for the B-29’s. His has written 3 books about his war experiences and life and more details can be found at www.jerryyellin.com

Raymond Backstrom, a retired Marine MasterSgt has an incredible site devoted to the Battle . rbackstr2000@yahoo.com at http://www.iwojimahistory.com/

He also sells maps of the Island depicting all the different sites there.  Very cheap, less then $10 dollars for a map you can have framed in your “I love me” room

 As the veterans pass on, it is up to our generation to keep their memories alive.

 Semper Fi,

Taco

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