Members of the local Marine Corps League at the Iwo Jima Remembrance Memorial. (l-r): Jerry Harrison, Wayne Poore, Chuck Flemming, John Murray, Ken Hulsey, and Corpsman Gerald Faulkner.
Submitted by Wayne Poore of Marine Corps League N. Ga. Mtn. Det. #1280
On February 19, 2018, members of the North Georgia Mountain Detachment #1280 of the Marine Corps League attended a Remembrance Memorial to show tribute to the 6,821 American lives lost (mostly Marines) involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima during WWII.
On the 19th of February 1945, 73 years ago, at 07:59 in what seemed like mass confusion, “Operation Detachment” began. During the previous four days (the original request was for 20 days) the pre-invasion
bombardment by ships of Task Force 58 started. The Armada consisted of 485 ships, which included eight battleships, 16 air craft carriers, 15 heavy and light cruisers, the remaining being troop and support ships. This force was also assisted by 42 B-24 bombers of the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Area.
The Marine General in charge of “Operation Detachment” was a colorful 65-year-old veteran of the Corps, Lt. Gen. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith. Gen. Smith stated before the invasion began, “This will be the bloodiest flight in Marine Corps history. We’ll catch seven kinds of hell on the beaches, and that will be just the beginning. The fighting will be fierce, and casualties awful, but my Marines will take the damned island.”
As indicated before, what started as mass confusion, grew into overpowering momentum as intricate planning, training and organization took hold. During the next 36 days the Marines, who hit the beach wearing only boots, green utilities, and a combat helmet (Flack jackets weren’t made back them), would push inland on the tiny island. Gen. Smith state as the invasion began, “I was not afraid of the outcome of the battle. I know we will win. Contemplation of the cost in Marine lives has caused me many sleepless nights.”
During WWII, 365 Medals of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration for valor “above and beyond the call of duty” were earned. Of these, 27 were for heroics on Iwo Jima.
As has been asked many times, why did we have to lose 6,821 precious American lives for this island? The answer, Iwo Jima was just 650 miles from Tokyo and with it under American control meant that 24,751 Army Air Corps crewmen would be saved from ditching disabled aircraft in the cold waters of the North Pacific. Before the end of the war, 2,251 B-29 Superfort bombers would record emergency landings Ion the air strip after bombing missions on Tokyo.
At the end of 36 bloody days, the Marines had secured Iwo Jima, and President Roosevelt was notified. He was on Capitol Hill and reported to Congress, “The Japs know what it means that the U.S. Marines have landed, and I think I may add, having Iwo Jima in mind, that the situation is well in hand.”
When the cake was picked up for the 73rd anniversary of the landing the young girl asked if the person the cake was for was Chinese or Japanese. To most, Iwo Jima is a vaguely remembered and remote where Marines fought a bloody battle during WWII. Today an American flag flies from dawn to dusk on Mount Suribachi’s summit. To Marines it holds a special place in their heart. To the Japanese it is hallowed ground.
Semper Fidelis Marines