Iwo Jima and Other Battles
by John A
February 19, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the Pacific island Iwo Jima. It was the most bloody battle of the Pacific theater with 6,821 killed in action. Most of those killed were within the first hours of the invasion where 70,000 U.S. Marines stormed the beaches of that island to gain a foothold towards taking the war to Japan’s doorstep.
My father in-law was a U.S. Marine and involved in that battle. His name is Chuck. He was involved in many battles and survived without a scratch. He eventually ended up in Nagasaki Japan as part of the occupational forces after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on that city which hastened the end of the war.
Even though my father in-law didn’t suffer a scratch in combat, that’s not to say he didn’t come away unscathed. There are those horrible memories that go though his 91 year old mind that can never be forgotten.
It’s the smell of cordite, burning flesh, sights of dead bodies and the sounds of bullets and artillery rounds going off inside the mind that one can never escape. And for years he has had to endure those memories dealing with PTSD when it wasn’t even known about at the time without any assistance form the Veterans Administration.
He never spoke of those times and tried to brush them off. To talk about them back then was perhaps considered a sign of weakness and he just had so suck it up and get along the best he could; just as most other WW II veterans did. They suffered in silence and their voices were really never heard.
Now Chuck sits in a wheel chair in a nursing home. His body is frail from all the miles put on the frame and arthritis. Yet to this day, he never complains and thanks our Maker for each breath he takes.
My wife and I give thanks to our Maker as well for the blessings he has bestowed upon us by being able to care for one of American’s Greatest Generation. After all, without his generation’s sacrifices, we would not be living the lives we now have in the great land; AMERICA!!!
On top of this, it must also be noted that 416,000 American’s gave their lives during WW II in both the European and Pacific theaters. This nation virtually lost an entire generation of men and women who had so much potential to offer this nation in the form of doctors, teachers, scientists, fathers, mothers or what ever their vocation may have been.
I am reminded of the time I was watching the movie “Saving Private Ryan” when it first hit the movie theaters. In the opening scenes where battle was raging on Omaha Beach in Normandy France, there were two elderly gentlemen behind me in the theater.
I could hear them sobbing and the opening scenes caught them off guard. These two men were reliving those battles like they were happening today; they were there again. The movie was too realistic. I still hear them crying today.
It’s those two gentlemen and my father in-law who give me inspiration to write this. Their stories will most likely go untold since to retell them is much too painful. They have given us our ways of life in this nation whether some may consider for better of for worse.
It’s still the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Despite political affiliation, we can not deny this generation’s contribution to our great nation.
Since then, this nation has never experienced things our parents experienced in their times; the great depression, food shortages, gas shortages, limited building supplies, rationing, metal drives and buying war bonds to mention just a few things. We’ve had things pretty darn easy since then, though some will dispute my saying this. But they can’t dispute the magnitude of doing without as our folks had to endure.
They can’t dispute the 10,000 lost men lying on Omaha beach within the first hour of battle with the Germans. They can’t dispute the 240,000 American men killed in the subsequent 42 days to take St. Lo that was 20 miles away from Normandy. France. They can’t dispute folks like Rosie the Riveter who picked up the slack when men went off to war. They can’t dispute the fact the nation pulled together and worked for a common cause; something we’ve seem to have forgotten or never learned nowadays.
And because of this, our destiny is to make the same mistakes by not paying attention to history.