WWII Iwo Jima

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by mstang67chic, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    I had started typing this on the Where Did You Grow Up Thread but when it started getting a little long, I didn't want to hijack the thread.

    For those of you Iwo Jima descendants....husband's grandfather was there also. Actually, he was killed there. He served on the USS Terry and while they were anchored about a mile (give or take) offshore, the ship was attacked by land based morters. I believe this was March(??). He was buried at sea in fact, before the ship limped back to a port for repairs. My father in law was only 2 at the time so for his benefit and husband's I started doing some research. I actually managed to track down a gentleman who had been onboard at the time. In fact, he was one of two men who had written a letter to husband's grandmother. The captain had asked for volunteers to write the next of kin of those killed and this man and another wrote to father in law's mother. The man I contacted actually still had the letter husband's grandmother wrote in return and sent it to me. He also sent a lot of infomation he had including a fellow sailor's personal journal (copies) from that time period. It was really very interesting. Kind of gruesome at times but interesting. Another man (the son of one of the crew members I believe) sent me some pictures that his father had taken on board but unfortunately there were not any of husband's grandfather.

    I also found out that there was a ship reunion this past fall in Ohio but by the time I found out about it, it was too late for father in law to go. I hope there is one next year and some of his father's shipmates are still living and able to go. I think he would really enjoy it.
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    My father was there! He was a Marine. On the ground. An officer in the infantry. I remember asking him when I was a kid if he was one of those guys hoisting the flag in the statue/picture that's so famous. He wasn't, but he was a hero to me.

  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Suz...I didnt know your dad was at Iwo! Hey...maybe he knew my uncle...Paul Scott. Its ok to use his name...he is dead now. He died about 20 years or so ago. I didnt know him well but he was career Marines.

    My dad was on a light cruiser...the USS Vincennes CL64 at Guadacanal and other places in the south pacific for around 3 years. He came out and went to BC and got at degree in accounting and the rest is history. Started out as an accounts receivable/payables clerk and made it up to VP of Finance for a multi-state corporation by the end of his career.

    Ya know....we had Marines or Navy all over my family (and Tony's) which is why Jamie chose to go military. He chose Marines because of his Papa. He was in the same boot camp as his Papa 60 years to the month later than his papa!
  4. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    That would be pretty cool if they knew each other, Janet- shared a fox hole or something.

    Once a Marine, always a Marine...and once a military brat, always a military brat. My next door neighbor retired from the Marines last year. He recommended that I watch "Taking Chance." It's currently showing on HBO "On Demand" but you could probably order it online or from Netflix. It stars Kevin Bacon as a Marine escorting the body of fallen comrade home. It's so touching that I wept my way through the whole movie. If you need a good cry:

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    What interesting info. I have no clue where my relatives on Dad's side served. Many of them cannot reveal this stuff even after death. I know husband;s Gpa was stationed in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. My mother in law's older sister still has nightmares about it. Such interesting history.
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love reading these stories.

    My Dad landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day+1. He said by the time he got there all the dead and wounded had been removed but there was blood everywhere. He was a medic so he saw some pretty horrific stuff. Just like in the movies their ship pulled up and let down this plank and all the men and gear just piled off into the water toward shore.

    I grew up watching all the old b&w WWII movies and listened to his stories for hours. He was in the 110th Engineers. He built bridges when he wasn;t tending to the injured. And then they blew them up after they crossed. He shared a foxhole with his cousin at times. When he was in the hospital several years ago very ill after surgery, he hallucinated and was talking to Bennie about getting in the foxhole.

  7. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    My Dad was US army airborne but in the infantry division. He did the European tour of duty and fought in France, Germany and Austria. He was at the battle of the Buldge and unfortunately had nightmares pretty much his whole life thereafter. He had a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. Made it to first leutenant all on in-field commissions. He was a hero that almost never talked about the war. He did tell me one story that I believe is the reason for his lifelong nightmares. He was in charge of establishing communication between HQ and the front lines. His unit was pinned down under sniper attack and as commanding officer and under orders he had to repeatedly sent out "runners" in the hopes that one of them would get through. He watched as several of his young men were "picked off". He told me they were just kids and so very scared yet so willing to give for their country.

    My dad was one of the rare few of the WW2 vets that I knew that never glorified war. He was proud of America and proud of his service but hated war. He cried openly when my brother and my sister and our friends went off to war during the Viet Nam era and again when they all returned home relatively intact. It was the only two times I ever saw my father cry. He was a member of the American legion and spent every memorial day in service to the fallen marching in parades and placing flags and wreaths on graves.

    My dad came home at the end of the war and made a family and had a hugely sucessful career of 40 years as an engineer with MA Bell. He took an early retirement after being "retired upstairs" to the VP staff . He hated his "working retirement" and decided it was time to have fun. He then took my mother to Europe to see all the places he had written to her from and about during the war. He said it felt so good to see it all restored and with flowers blooming. He died two years later of colon cancer. He was buried in the millitary cemetary with full honors. I will never forget how proud and how sad I was when I heard them blow taps for him and give the 21 gun salute. -RM
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RM what a touching story and it is apparent how proud you are of your Dad.

    Just to clarify, neither my Dad nor any of the other people I ever talked to glorified the war. It was really like pulling teeth to get him to talk about it, I just asked a lot of questions. He spent five years in Europe and Africa. He came home with a very serious drinking problem which almost detroyed our family.

    I suspect I will be very sad when I hear those same taps and am handed that folded flag. He is 89 now and I just expect him to always be here.

  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My Dad also served in "the war". He was an Air Force Navigator and he retired from the AF as a retired Colonel. I remember having a little girl
    friend down the street who after the war said to my Daddy in front of me
    "Did you really see my Daddy's plane fly down into the ocean?" :(

    Have you all checked the WWII Memorial in Difficult Child? It's online and info about the men is available too.

    Back to work. DDD
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think any of the WWII vets talk a whole lot about the war unless you happen to be with them at one of their reunions many years later. I know when I was growing up my dad never talked to me about it other than to tell me he had been a Marine. I used to look at his old uniform that he had saved or look at pictures he had of his ship and shipmates and just be in awe. I would be allowed to hold his medals very rarely. He never told me any of the horrors he saw. I learned that from listening to old men talk at reunions and from research online. He also opened up a bit to Jamie when he joined. He still is a bit reticent and would never consider himself a hero. I dont even want to think about when they play taps for that man. He just turned 83 a few days ago. He was the youngest man on the ship when he was enlisted. He had enlisted just after he turned 17.
  11. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My dad was on a Navy hospital ship at the time Iwo Jima was taken. He was suffering from malaria and peritonitus.

    I know very little about his time in the Navy. He wouldn't talk about it, other than things he did while on leave. He had tattoos on both forearms, and he said that was the first and last time he ever got drunk (he only drank coffee, milk and water my whole life). He was a radio tech - and was an amateur radio operator the rest of his life.

    I do know he would never go swimming. He had told my mom when they were first dating that he had seen too many dead and body parts in water to every enjoy swimming (he would go fishing, however).

    husband's dad was in Europe, and got lung damage and spent a lot of time in Walter Reed. His uncle was killed in Italy, and his cousin did a lot of research into that and has been to visit his father's grave. husband's dad is still alive (he's 86) and he too won't talk about his time, but he has been worried sick about my son since he decided to join the Navy (and it's only his step-grandson!).
  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Here is a link to the National WWII Registry on line. I registered my Dad on this site and I hope all of you do the same for your loved ones. They should be memorialized forever.

  13. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Nancy, seeing your Dad as a young man brought tears to my eyes. I sent the link to my brother. I'd love to get my Dad registered. Like yours, I want my Dad memorialized, too. None of these guys should be forgotten.


  14. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Nancy, thank you for that link. When I checked, my father in law was on there 3 times! LOL I think I'll add another one though and put a picture up.

    Your dad was a looker!
  15. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    My Poppa (the grandfather who raised me) served in Germany and France. He was captured and held in Stalag 2 and 7. I know he was near Mooseburg (sp). He went in weighing 325 lbs and returned weighing 135. He talked very little about his time held captive. We do still have his letters (they were censored.) We also have a Nazi spoon he used in the garden where he was assigned to work. The local paper did a story on his service several times. I know most of what I know from what I read there. I do know when he came home he told my grandmother that no matter what she served for dinner at night, he had to have some kind of meat. His feet were frozen during the march and he suffered from nerve damage for the rest of his life. He could only wear a certain kind of socks and leather soled shoes.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  16. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Nancy thank you for the link. I thought that my sister had registered my dad but found out he wasn't so I will do that. My father- in- law was there as my sister in law had registered him last May. He was an Air force mechanic and worked on the B17 bombers. He didn't see any actual carnage but said that they used to go out on the airstrip to watch and count the planes returning from a mission just like you see in the movies. He said it was very devastating when a plane didn't return. They usually never knew for certain what happened to the men involved. Consequently he said that he and his buds spent many moments wondering if the flight crew had survived, were captured or died. I will say my father in law does have some wild stories about his and his buddies antics while on leave. We even have a pictue of him on one of his leaves when he got drunk and had his portrait taken in a Scottish KILT of all things. He is of Hungarian decent LOL. Now the poor man is dying of late stage Alshimer's and often thinks he is back in the war. He will join his wife out in Calverton National Cemetary when he passes on. (That is where my parents are also). I guess I will be hearing the horns playing taps once again. Hopefully for his sake it will be soon. -RM
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you found the link, too, Nancy. Thanks. DDD
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The best memorial you can give these guys, is to get as much information from them, on their stories. THis isn't easy, when so often they have difficulty talking about it. But if you ever do get the mtalking, or get talking to someone who heard their stories, take good notes. Write it all down.

    For those who are anti-war, telling these stories is the best way to prevent further wars.

    My father in law served in the Australian army in WWII. So did my dad, but because my dad was older and at times was on compassionate leave because of various babies my mother had, my dad was rear echelon. But father in law - he was a kid, served in some rough places (before the US got involved) and was captured on Crete. He spent a year on the loose (escaped three times) and finished the war in Germany and Silesia in POW camps. We got some of his story, then after he died we found a diary he had kept in the final months of the war. The diary documents the final months of the internment and how, as the US army was getting near, the German guards marched the POWs away from the front. Then one morning they woke up and the guards were gone. They were in an abandoned farmhouse so they foraged and found a hidden nest and dug up some potatoes. They had the best feed they'd had in years! Then he stole a motobike and rode it back the way they'd come, heading for the US troops. That is where the diary ends.

    I remember growing up and the celebration of Anzac Day - as a kid, I never got the point of it. It seemed to be glorifying war far too much, anybody who said, "I don't like war" would get jumped on. Instant detention at school. But these days, I feel it's much more rational. Of course war is terrible, at last they admit it. But this isn't glorifying war, it's making sure that we remember the effort of those who have given up so much, to keep the rest of us safe. And it's also recognising their sacrifice as well as making sure that we do our utmost now and in the future, to prevent war.

    At last we can look at the Gallipoli campaign, for example, and say, "We should never have been sent there, it was a huge tactical disaster," and not get pilloried for it. At last the truth can be told and people don't see it as devaluing the effort. Our soldiers fought in Gallipoli despite knowing it was a huge tactical mistake. They stuck it out, did much better than anyone thought would be possible, and then when they had to pull out, they did it in a way that should be celebrated as the epitome of human ingenuity. The enemy we fought then, the Turks, lost many more than we did, but are now allies. We now celebrate Anzac Day with the Turks - we ALL remember together, so that it need never happen again.

    We do tend to celebrate military disasters, don't we? I think because that is when we seee the strength in human spirit, we see ordinary people doing extraordinary, selfless things in the face of impossible odds. That is when we realise just what we are all capable of, if we can rise above the disaster. And to celebrate those efforts and the strength of human spirit - we need to do this.

    So please, do your utmost to record what you can of the memories of the war generations. Telling their story can also help heal them. And it's never too late for that.