Remembering Iwo Jima
Editor’s Note: This month marks 75 years since the Battle of Iwo Jima began.
In 1941, a neighbor came by the house and asked: “Have you heard the news?” We had not, so he said: “Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor.” I was young (17) and thought World War II would be over before I would be involved. How wrong I was!
Two years later I was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy and I was on my way. I became the Engineering Officer of USS-LCI (M) 1012. The 1012 was involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima.
Late one day in February 1945, my ship was lying to (ship not moving). We were about one-half mile off shore, in case we were needed. Three of us were in the conning tower watching a rocket being fired by the enemy. The rocket would leave a trail of sparks for half of its travel. By looking at the trajectory you could anticipate where it would explode.
Immediately there was a scream in the air and there was no doubt which way [the rocket] was going.
Once I saw the sparks were directly vertical, which meant the explosive was coming at us or going away. I said, “Skipper, it is coming our way.” He said, “No, I think it is going away.” Immediately there was a scream in the air and there was no doubt which way it was going. The time between firing and landing was perhaps five seconds. The three of us quickly dropped to the bottom of the conning tower. The explosive landed in the ocean very close by. It shook the ship, but caused no damage.
About three days later I saw the American flag, just after it was raised on top of Mount Suribachi. I will forever be grateful to the Marines who raised the flag. It gave everyone a boost in morale.
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