February 19, 2005

Fredericksburg Texas – Iwo Jima Re enactment.

February 19, 2005

The first stop on our trip to Iwo Jima was Fredericksburg Texas and The National Museum for the Pacific War, which also happens to be where my parents live. There is an amazing story about God’s providence in their living there, but that will have to come later. My parents are docents at the museum. The museum organized a giant Iwo Jima Commemoration including a parade and a re enactment of the battle for Mt. Suribachi, the five hundred foot tall hill that overlooked the island.

Kelly and my mother at the parade. My sweet wonderful mother housed and fed at any given time 30-40 WWII pilots, Vietnam vets, Film crews, a host of friends and a herd of relatives. She gets the “Sarah Award” as the hostess extrodinaire.

During the parade Deborah and I sat next to Vernon Galle, from the USS President Jackson which took the Third and Fifth Marine Divisions off Iwo Jima after the battle. Bill Henderson tells the story of how the Marines were so weak that they could not get themselves into the ships after the battle, so the Navy men carried them to safety and then cared for them on the way back to recovery. Vernon was one of those men who carried them in his arms. He said that he and his comrades would go through the food line with two trays, the extra one for a Marine who could not get up.

Dad and Mom on the bus on the way to the re enactment

Re enactment of the battle for Iwo Jima

Here is a shot of my family watching the re enactment with my sister Carol and her husband Fred and their daughter Chritina, My sister JoAnn, My Uncle Tom and his wife Mary, My aunt Francis' grandson Nick, Maria a Fredericksburg Neighbor, the most wonderful friends in the world, Howard and Sandy from Arizona and of course… Dad and Arthur Burry, my dad’s best friend on Iwo. Blair and Claudia are somewhere, but not in this picture.

General Jim VandeHey with my daughter Claudia. This retired Army Air Corps General stopped by my dads house and we had a great time talking Iwo Jima. I said to Claudia, “Young lady you are shaking the hand of a man who was there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and then went on to Iwo Jima with your grandfather.” She heard lots of his stories at my dad’s dining room table that afternoon... What a way to learn about history He was CO of the 78th, 47th and the 45th Fighter Squadrons. My dad was in the 45th.

Arthur Burry, my dad’s best friend from Iwo came. For me, getting to know Burry was the highlight of our time in Fredericksburg.

February 03, 2005

The Battle For Iwo Jima

The Battle for Iwo Jima
The experience on Iwo Jima was so horrible that most of these men were not able to talk about it for over fifty years. But now, even though 75% of them have already died, there are a few who are telling their stories. My father is one of them. Raleigh Businessman, pastor and home schooling grandfather, Bill Henderson is another.

The Most Famous WWII Photo was shot there.

It was an assault of epic proportions. There were seventy eight thousand US troops and 22K Japanese on this tiny island, with 850 US ships off shore. This “Sulphur Island’ hosted some of the most brutal killing fields in Marine history.

As our men came ashore, the Japanese had nearly every square yard of the island in the sights of its firepower. Our soldiers were slaughtered on the beach on the first day of battle. During the the 36 days of battle, there were 2/3 casualties. Heroism ran high. Eighty Medals of Honor were given to the Marine Corps in WWII, Twenty seven of them from Iwo.

Jack Lucas was the youngest person since the Civil War to receive the award. He just turned seventeen when he dove on a grenade, then saw another land close by so he pulled it under him. Only one grenade detonated, but he saved the lives of his comrades. Jack was born in North Carolina and currently is a North Carolina resident.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Woody Williams. told us that he repented of his sins in 1962 and now preaches at his church and does the work of a pastor in his church in West Virginia.

Iwo Jima was the bloodiest battle in Marine history. One hundred thousand men were in mortal combat on a tiny eight square mile volcanic island, and our troops hardly ever saw the enemy because they were underground in a vast matrix of tunnels that crisscrossed the island. The enemy was everywhere, and nowhere at the same time. They would pop up in front of you, and then re appear behind you in another bunker

We are going to Iwo Jima to honor our fathers. And we are going to make a way for the stories of their sacrifice and the providence of God to be made known in the coming generations.