My father in law, John Gunther, 4th Marine Division was in the first wave of the landings. His unit took 92% casualties. He was in combat and not relieved until the 16th day. Something like out of 245 men in his unit onlt 7 or 8 walked off the island on their own. He was one of them. He saw both flag raisings and said the second flag was from one of the ships because the first was deemed too small. He said a cheer went up across the island when the Marines saw that flag raised. He remembers being about 30 yards away from John Basilone when a shell killed him.
When he was relieved and brought aboard a ship he was very grateful to the sailors who led him to a coffee pot and was told it would have coffee available for the Marines 24hrs a day! He is 87 yrs old and only started talking about Iwo to his family about 5 years ago. He has had trouble sleeping and terrible nightmares from Iwo ever since.
Forgive me for forgetting to add- God Bless The U.S. Marine Corps And All Who Ever Served! Semper Fi!
Perhaps your father in law and my dad knew each other. My dad was 4th Marine Division, Company E. He was on the first wave also. My dad made it ’til March 8 or 9 and was wounded. He was able to walk, so he was sent back to the beach assisting another Marine who had taken a round to the leg. I lost my dad in June 2011 at 88. His name was McCray Jones. They called him Mac. Dad remembered the flag raising, too; and the cheer. He remembered seeing the replacement flag, but like the book says, he never saw that one go up. I recently toured the Marine Corps museum in Quantico (March ’13). Imagine my shock when I came around the corner and saw that flag. My wife asked me if I was okay when she saw that big tear roll down my cheek. I said that I was indeed okay, but the last time anyone in my family laid eyes on that flag, my dad was a young, strapping 23 year old fighting for his country. What an honor for me to see that sight.
Kudos to your dad in law. I thank him for his service. I know from talking to my dad that it was a nightmare. One gift he gave me before his death. He took my copy of Flags of Our Fathers and went through it, noting things that he remembered and making comments for me.
He remembered seeing the guy fall from the ship on the approach to Iwo Jima. You are the first person I’ve seen post who had a relative who was 4th Division, 1st wave, like my dad. Your dad-in-law probably did not know my dad; I guess it gives me that one more link to his youth.
Hi Kevin, I’ll ask him the next time I see him. It’s weird, nowadays he has all sorts of short-term memory problems but can recite the names and hometowns and other details about all the guys he served with. He went to Wash D.C. a few years back for some kind of ceremony with the Marine Corps commandant and the flag. I’ll have to take the museum tour. I’ve driven by on a couple of occasions on vacations but never stopped.
I think my father in law survived because he was 19 yrs old and maybe 130lbs, he gave them a small target. After one advance, his fellow Marines mentioned that he must have felt very lucky. He didn’t know what they meant by that until they told him they saw bullets striking very near him as he ran forward. He was so focused on getting to the next foxhole he didn’t notice! I’m glad he eventually began to tell us these stories. You read about battles in a book, but to hear a firsthand account really paints a picture and brings the enormity and horrors of war home to you.
Thank you for your comment, and thank you to your father for all he did so we could remain free.
Sorry for the delayed response. If there was anything I’d like to see added to this great website is a feature that would notify me when I get a response. Not to be negative; I am so greatful, for it takes me back in time and brings back many wonderful memories of my dad (and now my mom, who died 2 years and 1 day after my dad).
Your recollection of your father-in-law’s story reminded of my own dad talking about sitting on a clump of rocks. He was in a somewhat safe area, but there was still gunfire. All of a sudden he felt a wetness oozing on his back and thought for sure a sniper had gotten him. He told me that he felt around, thinking he would find a serious wound, scared to death! He found that a rock had fallen and hit his canteen, bursting it! He was relieved!
I am hoping that with the bit of inheritance I was able to have passed down, I will be able to muster up an Iwo trip; I don’t know, but it would certainly be worth it to me.
God bless the United States Marines.
My Ma’s Father served for Australia in various campaigns. He was James (Jim) Kelly. Many of my uncles were pilots in in the balle of Britain too. You tanks would be well served to remember the sacrifices that were made prior to your arrival in the war.
My beautiful Grandfather died in 1998. He died with a tear and many comments about the war: “sorry I could not kill more of the slitty eyed bastards” .. something I took to heart and was not pleased with. I was very young then!
They were nasty. And He knew better.
I miss Him terribly. I wish I knew my uncles too.
I am a fly-boy these days and God help the Japanese if they ever become my enemy.
Gerard J Gallagher
The scrub brush landscaper reminds me of the area around Fort Cronkhite by San Francisco. I wonder how the fishing is around the island?
God Bless The Corps
My father was W. G. Newman and he had been a Marine prior to WWII, having served from 1933 to 1939, during which time he was a China Marine under command of Capt. David M. Shoup. He was called back to the Corps in 1943, and joined the Third Marine Division for the invasion of Guam. Then back to Pearl Harbor for more training and the invasion of Iwo Jima where he was a supply Sgt. , and landed on the third day. He was an old man to his fellow Marines at the ripe old age of 30. By the Grace of God, he was not wounded. He remained in Dog Company of the USMCR, in Savannah, Georgia and was called up with that outfit for the Korean Conflict. By the time that I went to Boot Camp at P.I., SC, Capt. David M. Shoup was a General officer and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. I served in the USMCR from 1959 for two enlistments ending in 1967. During that time, I graduated from college and later law school. On the exact date of the D-Day for Iwo, Pop died in 2003 at 89 . February 19, will be special for me and my family forever, and I am proud to have been a Marine and the son of a Great Marine. Semper Fi!!!
my father died before Christmas, he was 92. he was on the USS Libra. he finally told my brother and i a little bit about this battle a couple of years ago when we took him to the first reunion of the Libra. he would stop and start talking, you could he was going back. he saw the flag raising too, i don’t think he knew if it was the first or second but he always made a point of mentioning that monent.
Hi, Well I guess that I could anc. about any ????????? you would want to ask. I was on Iwo jima in 1946-1947 as a first Sgt. there then. I’ve been in most of the caves and seen all the dead Japs, most of them them meat was hard and dry on them. A lot of the men were getting a lot of gold teeth from the bodies. A few of the men were getting the heads off of them and sending them home. In one of the caves there were some ladies shoes in them, I guess they were there for the officers’s fun. You have a nice day.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson
I’m a 6th grader doing a report on Iwo Jima. I think it was the turning point on the western front, and I would appreciate if you could be in correspondence with me via e-mail. Most of my classmates don’t know what Iwo Jima is, so I would like to educate them by choosing this important topic. If you want to take me up on my offer, my e-mail address is email@example.com . Thank you for your time.
My father was a airplane firefighter on Iwo Jima in Feb. 1945 He’s got many many stories about his time there and the training he went through before he got there. He said he was below the hill looking up when the marines and sailor raised the flag. He’s 93 and remembers it like yesterday. Very Interesting.
My wife’s father told her that he was also a firefighter on Iwo and that he trained at Lake Pontchartrain. We didn’t get a chance to find out more before he passed. His name was Carl Anderson from Duluth Minnesota.
One more note. One day I went to the Navy/Marine Corps museum on Treasure Island in SF Bay and there was a vial of the black sand that Joe Rosenthal had brought back from the island beach. Amazing to see that.
Just a few comments. It’s amazing to see the color aerial photos of the island compared to seeing it mostly in black & white pics or films. My landlord’s son was on the island during the battle and he brought back a beautiful hand carved pipe with Japanese writing on it. I also met a camera repair man in San Francisco who told me he was on the island and he took a prisoner back to headquarters and he said the prisoner kept trying to kill himself by smothering himself in the dirt. He told me that if ever there was a hell on earth, Iwo Jima was it. He said when he got back to his ship a sailor brought him a quarter slice of cold watermelon and after eating it he slept the sleep of the dead. I have a distant relative who was a Marine on Guadalcanal and I am currently reading ‘Guadalcanal Diary’ (for the 5th time). Another distant relative of mine on my Mother’s side was Claire Chennault who was battling the Japs way before Pearl Harbor.
Hi, Well how you this find day? Things here are about the same. Rainy and cold. Have you been on iwo jima? If so when, I was there in 1946-1947. I was a rirst Sgt. as there was no time in grade at the time. That changed in 1947 at that time you had to have so long in grade. By then I had made S/Sgt.I was only 18 then and was a S/Sgt, Emaim me when you can. You have a good day.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson call 309-647-1444 or email me Rossonotes@aol.com
Dear Sarge im mel im an old leatherneck myself been out since 1973, Camp Lejuene now belong to Marince Corps League Northeast AL detachment, am as proud of my Corps heritage as the day i left PI and was called Marine for the first time. would love to thank you for ur service in a time of world crisis, all good men came forth whether Marines Army Navy Air corps and Merchant Marines. i am proud of you and all who served then and since, would love to have any pics maps anything you can send through email. again im proud of you , God bless America and Chesty Puller humbly ur brother pfc Melvin Osborne Semper- Fi .
My uncle, Marshall William Eads was killed in the 3rd assault wave on first day. He was a Bosuns Mate first class. My family has remembered his sacrifice all these years. I have his purple heart on my wall as I write this.
May we never foreget
The world has been a better place to be since WWII. I am grateful that I and my family has had the benefit of everything that followed this war. I was born in 1944 and it is as though everything has been given to me. My father’s generation made that possible. I don’t understand exactly how so many, who were so young, gave so much and never really asked for a thank you from us. Even the families of those who never came home have suffered their loss without asking for a lot. Whatever this country and its government gave to those veternas and their families, it was not nearly enough. It is not enough today. It should be much more, even today. A yearly day of remembrance is not nearly enough. They gave so much, so much more than any of us who were not there can ever know. I flew to Normandy a few years ago to be there on the date of the invasion. I want to go to Saipan as I cannot go to Iwo. Why? Because I want to feel those young men’s presence and whisper my thanks for their unbelievable sacrafice. I never want to forget, my children to forget, or their children to forget what we were given by the generation that gave us life and then gave us a glorious place where we could live that life. If there is God, I hope that he has provided a special place for these men and women. If Heaven is the reward for those who have merely lived a good life, then there must be a place reserved for those who came just before my generation. While they may not have been noble by birth they were the most noble by deed. I love everyone of them. Thank you for my life.
It’s good to hear someone that talked that way, not manny of them left.Most of them don;t know where Iwo jima is at and who is in charge there. Or what we paided to get the place. Or how manny lifies we lost there.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson Rossonotes@aol.com Reply if you can.
I am rehabbing from a broken leg here in Worcester MA and it has been my utter privilege to acquaint myself with a living marine of Iwo Jima here. He is 90 years old and his name is BRUCE GRAY. I am awe of this man. He remembers Iwo Jima well. He is but one reason why I don’t speak Japanese today.
I could not have said it any better. My Grandfather was a WWI Army vet. My Father was a WWII US MARINE. and I am sure you know, that I will never forget what happened today Dec. 7th or anything regarding the war. We are so lucky to have had this generation do what they did so we could be her. My son is US ARMY ROTC. He knows what his Grandfather did and the meaning og our history. He will be a really good leader of soldiers.
Thank you for your patriotism and thoughtful message.
Hello I have just moved but ran into this about Iwo Jima, and wondered about your name, I was in the Marines and was in that battle, I am now 90 years old, but just interested. I have just moved to Sutherlin Or. From Elkton. and I make this necklace and am on the net. but please let me know how you got the name?? Nyal
To anc. the above ??????????? Yes I have a lot of the cave pictures. But most of them have a lot of dead Japs in them. I wouldn’t want the kids to see them. They are not for the young ones. A lot of them have their heads off. I guess some one was having fun doing that.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson
my heart goes out to all those fallen men that died on iwo in ww 2. losing 7 seven thousand in a single battle? it has to be the biggest (excuse my language),,,,,( F UP ) of the military leadership of that era!!!! i suspect those high ranking leaders recieved medals for their part of that battle!! todays leaders should have those military leaders of that era court marshaled in absentia and all medals removed from their record! again my heart to out to all died in that battle. tm
I have read all these comments and just reading some of them made me wish I went through that war with many of you that were there. I applaud all of you my freedom and all those who paid the ultimate price for their families to have their freedom. I went in in 1974 and I retire this December and you that were there and actually killed those japs I thank you so much for giving me the knowledge of that era and passed it on to my Marines that I mentored all these years. Thank you my brothers.
Sgt. you sound like a good man!!!!!!!
S/Sgt. GW Rosson Reply if you can.
My email is Rossonotes@aol.com
Hi, Go to Iwo Jima today and go to the picture # 17, It has 17 dead Japs in it at the time that I was there. They were beteween the two black houses. We went into the biggest block house thru the tunnel to the other block house . They were about a 100 feet apart from each other. If any one has any ???????? email me or call. My phone is
309=647-1444 or email Rossonotes@aol.com. You have a good day.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson
Any one that needs any infro. on Iwo Jima just let me know as I was there for a year and a half. I was a first Sgt. so I had my own jeep, that way I could get around real good. I’m 84 years old but it seens only yesterday that I was there. The only bad thing is that we had only one woman on the island and our company officer Max H. Booth had her all the time. The woman they changed every month. But each month Max H. Booth got her.Ha Ha He must havs been a good Man.
My email is Rossonotes@aol.com or call 309-647-1444
S/Sgt. G. G. Rosson
Sir, I want to thank you for your service and dedication to this country. I am from a different generation, but I am too serving our country. What you and the rest of the men who fought and scarified their lives for this great nation, deserves nothing but the utmost respect. Thank you for everything that you have done.
Hi, I’m still would like to know who ok, the giving the island back to the d*** Japs. I f any ones knows please let me know who they are. As you know that I’ve been in most all the caves on the island. I was there for a year and half. The Jap gen, cave is the biggest one on the island. It goes down 76 feet and has five levels in it. When I was there most of them had a lot of dead japs in them . Some of the only had two or three and other had as manny as 25 – 35 in them. All had a little meat on them but it was hadr and dry. Well you have a good day. The weather isn’t here id cold and damp.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson My email is Rossonotes@aol.com or call 309-647-1444
You have a good day.
What gets me is why we give the D*** Japs island back to the Japs in the first place.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson
Hi, John yes I have a lot of caves pictures. But again they all have a lot of dead Japs in them. All the meat on them is hard and dry now. And the smell is real bad.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson email me on Rossonotes@aol.com or call 309-647-1444
Hi, Again, As isaid before all good Japs are the dead ones.
Hi, Like a ass hole we gave the island back to the Japs.,in 1968. There were a lot of good Japs there then, ( all dead)
Hi, I was on Iwo Jima in 1946-1947 , as a first Sgt. at the time. We seen a lot of good Japs, All dead. You have a good day.
S/Sgt. GW Rosson email me on Rossonotes@aol.com or call 309-647-1444
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