I served on Iwo Jima in the U.S. Coast Guard at the Loran Station in 1970/71. The Loran Station was at Kitano Point where reputedly the last defense of the island was made. There was a large concrete bunker just below the station that was used by the crew off-duty to relax. We were ordered to stay out otherwise of all caves and bunkers as it was offensive to Japanese sensibility concerned with Shinto ceremonies to rehabilitate the dead. But no one took that seriously … and exploring was fairly common with the proviso that the officers were not to know.
Our average work day was 12 hours, 8 of labor composed of general maintenance and a 4 hour Loran watch. We had a rotating schedule of one or a 1/2 day off per week. We were also allowed a week off in Japan every 4 months if we so chose as it was ‘isolated duty’. Our chow was good. The water situation was tenuous relying only on rain to an uncovered reservoir so we were limited to ‘rinse-off’ showers only.
There were normal tensions in the crew between ‘lifers’ and 4 year servers, with the usual complaints of ruthless pettiness over lax attitudes, undoubtedly influenced by the social tensions from the Vietnam War. I remember in particular a visit by senior officers who joined our mess and sat at the enlisted table as a patronizing effort, and then made the mistake of praising the war. I immediately contradicted them with a stout defense of the anti-war complaint. This impudence was not appreciated but nothing came of it.
The island was very dry, with scrub bush covering it, and a remarkably clear sky with beautiful cloudy vistas over a cerulean ocean. I felt very fortunate to have a duty station not on a ship in such a beautiful environment.
On my day off I went galavanting over the island with a first-aid kit and two canteens. I walked every part of it, but stayed out of the caves and bunkers because I did respect that they were graveyards. The terrain was rugged. I also got myself in trouble once snorkeling and was chased out of the water by a shark. As I traveled about, I understood the war ‘intellectually’ but the horror of it never impacted me emotionally. That really bothered me. I expected to feel some ’eminence’ from the sacrifice and heroism of both sides but no heart-felt feelings emerged.
Towards the end of my stay I was assigned a paint detail for the Marine monument on Mt. Suribachi. It’s height and view allowed a ‘tactical’ understanding of the island on a gorgeous day. The broad gray beach’s on either side merged into the cliff’s and the Iwo’s center massif. One could well imagine now the ease of targeting the Marines. It made clear the desperation of the battle; the Marines like fish in a barrel, the Japanese overwhelmed by the huge fleet about them. As I scrapped and painted the monument a sense of the very real sacrifices made finally dawned on me. I felt humbled before what the Marines had done, and remembered my Mother’s old boyfriend David Lambert who carried a terrible scar on his left arm from Iwo Jima. So I painted the monument with all the care and concern I could muster, not as a job, but as an act of contrition.
I was stationed on Iwo Jima from Oct 1962 till Oct 1963. I was a ground radio operator, with the US Air Force. It was the only way we had contact with Japan or anyone else. It was a great experience.
My Uncle Pvt. Wilbern Glen Brown, 4/23 served and died on Iwo Jima. I plan to travel to Iwo Jima next March to honor his service and to “walk in the sand” like he did, and climb Suribachi.
Mr. Curley, everyday I wake up free it’s because of men and women like you. I’m a 26 year USAF vet, but what happened on Iwo Jima can never be equaled. My step uncle served with Carlsons Raiders on Makin, and he was permanently disabled on Iwo Jima. He’s gone now, and is able to walk and run just like he did in boot camp.
God Bless the Greatest generation.
WWII happened well before I was born. However, I did have the privilege of doing 6 detachments there for our practice flight ops while stationed on the Kitty Hawk 97-2000. You kinda feel weird inside as you walk around the island. Just having a small visualization of the past makes it seep inside of you.
I served on Iwo Jima in 1970/71 as a Coast Guardsman at the loran station, a navigational aid, since deactivated. We had a 6 day,12 hour work schedule, combining normal duties with the ‘Loran’ watch, basically tuning the radio signal. There was also a Japanese navy station on the island whose members would regularly whip us at baseball. The weather is temperate with no natural water resource. Our station subsisted on rain water which was strictly rationed. Iwo is not a ‘jungle’ island but is thickly covered with scrub vegetation. We were ordered to stay out of all caves and areas where it was possible to disturb any human remains out of respect for Japanese burial customs.
On my day off I hiked over the island extensively trying to picture the battle while constantly amazed at the difficulties the Marines had in conquering a persistent enemy in such difficult terrain of rocks, ridges and caves. I actually repainted the Marine memorial on Mount Suribachi, and treated it with a tenderness and care as if it itself were a fallen comrade, not because of any ostentatious patriotism, but because of what you could actually feel there. The island seemed pitifully mournful, and although there are no grave sites, you couldn’t help but feel a tragic sense of grief and loss, not based on what you knew from the battle, but innate to the island itself, as if the pain and suffering of all the combatants had left a psychic echo resonant in the land itself. It is a humbling experience, and proof to me that man and nature are intertwined.
Matt, I also servèd on Iwo Jima as a Fireman in the engineroom. I there from july 69 to july 70. When did you get there?
My father was 17 and spent 30 days on Iwo–5th division, 127th replacement (I think). He passed away in 2000 and I have wanted to visit the island to personally see what made such a huge impact on his life. A couple of publications have his photo and one pic is at the end of Clint Eastwood’s film, during the credits. His name was Stan Pappas.
How does one go about a tour of Iwo?
I was with the 3rd Marine Division @ Iwo with an artillery company. I am now in my 92 second year and each day I thank our Lord for allowing me to come off that island in on piece. Why Christ is keeping me around is a mystery, as I am no longer a contributor to our great nation. Daily, my thoughts are of all our guys who were not as fortunate as me. My mind also visits with their families that received the news of their sons demise on that hell hole called Iwo Jima . WAS IT WORTH IT? Some day we will have the answer !
Dear one, I am THANKFUL for YOU and all the other brave men and women who stood up for our freedom, for our country and for the freedom of all people‼ In the end, the Lord does know. May the God of all peace give you His peace today and until you see His lovely face❣😘🙅🌹☝️
Mr. Curley, sir, you most certainly are a contributor still to our great nation! You are still a US Marine by God! Semper Fidelis, Brother!
J. Fox, Sgt., USMC
You already contributed more than we had a right to ask Forrest easy old gentleman and I thank you for keeping our honor clean Semper Fi job well done
Thank you sir. My Dad was a Navy Corpsman on Iwo. He made a promise to the Lord that if he got off the island alive he would serve him. He kept his promise, and became a Baptist preacher. He pastored for 30 years, and went into evangelism for the last 30 years of his life. Dad died with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008.
As far as being worth it… yes, and thanks to you and the men you served with. I would hate to think it was in vane for the lives that were lost.
God bless you sir.
I wonder if you knew James Gunshanan? He was my uncle and died in Iwo Jima on March 9th, 1945. Next Wednesday will be the 72nd anniversary of his death. I never met him but will visit his grave at the National Cemetery in Pinelawn.
It was. We needed a base near the Japanese coast as it had two airfields to help attack the Japanese mainland. It was important for the B29s. No matter what you think you will always be a contributer to our society. You helped to end Japanese imperialism as well as helping to protect our great country. Once a Marine always a Marine. The history of the Corps and the brotherhood are the reasons why I want to join the Marines. No other branch can say they have as close of a brotherhood as the Marines. Semper Fi
I give you thanks for your service and all those who have and do serve providing our God given liberties today. Every year at this time I think of my father (Charlie Stahl) who also was on Iwo and in the artillary I believe as a section chief. HIs name also was Charlie and you, he and all have made a perpetual contribution to our liberty and to all children born since. You may not remember my father, but I know that if you were on Iwo together you may have passed each other in service. From my heart and soul I thank you Charlie Curley, you made a difference and I am blessed to say years later Semper Fi, my brother from a critical battle!
Only God knows the real answer to the question why you are here but in my opinion you are very special to this country. Thankyou for your service and your sacrifice. We are losing veterans by the thousands every year pretty soon in the near future there won’t be anybody left served in World War II. I think of your here so we can be inspired by your service and so you can tell the story God bless
God bless you! My Uncle was also with the 3rd at Iwo Jima. He passed away when I was nine of lung cancer. This week we buried another Uncle that was Navy and on a transport ship that hauled the 5th for the first wave. My heart goes out to all of our veterans. My Daddy was unable to serve as his brothers did, but died at 96, January 2016. There is a reason for you. You just made my day!! Thank you!!
Thank you for your service Mr. Curly. It’s an honor to hear from men like you who served so bravely and courageously to defend our country. My father too served on Iwo in the 5th Marine division. He passed away in 1976 before I was old enough to understand the magnitude of what he went thru. But I thank God for men like you, and others who served in that battle. God Bless you.
Sir, thank you for your service. Regarding your comment about no longer contributing to our great nation, you have contributed far more than most Americans, including myself. You have earned your place among America’s Greatest Generation, and are well-deserving of your retirement years. Our country can never repay you and others that landed on that island, and other fields of battle.
If you would like to get a US Flag flown on IWO Jima, please email me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This event happens ONLY 4 times for the year which are…
Invasion Day ( Already too late)
All I would need from you is a Flag and postage/address so I can resend it to you with a certificate of authenticity.
Your generous offer reminds me just how proud I am of my dad’s service in WW II as my son works today preparing his application for the US Naval Academy. Though my heart will not let me part with the American Flag that was given to me when my dad passed away. It made me dream for a minute how nice it would have been to know it was flown over the sacred island of IWO Jima.
Are you still doing this? My father fought all over the South Pacific, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, etc. He retired from the Marines. I would like to get this to honor him. My mother was also a W.A.C. (Women’s Army Corp).
I would like to visit Iwo Jima but it will cost me over $8Ks for a tour.
US ARMY (1972-1977)
Where do you live?
I am a widow if a navy person. He wasn’t in Iwo Jima but he did 2 tours of Vietnam. I’m proud of the Military and the veterans for being brave and giving me Freedom . Thank you do much.
I am deeply indebted to all those who fought to protect the precious freedoms we enjoy in America. My dear Uncle Bob was in the Signal Corp and found himself on Iwo Jima. During his life, he never liked to speak about his war experiences. However when I was still a teenager, my Grandmother, several years before her death permitted me to read the letters he sent from Iwo Jima. I will never forget the emotions, yet the courage of my uncle under conditions only those who have experienced the horrors of war could imagine. Sadly, all the letters were lost after my grandmother’s death.
My thanks is so inadequate yet I hope no American will ever forget the sacrifice, the dedication and heroism of all our Servicemen during that terrible time and our thanks to all who now serve in the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. God Bless America!!
I served aboard the USS IWO JIMA LPH2 during the VIET-NAM war . Or Captain took our ship past the island and we saw remnants of the war. We prayed for all souls that day in 1966.
Hi Todd. My name is Nathan. I’m a Sergeant in The U.S. Marine Corps. Finding information for your grandfather is a Matter of public record. You can actually find this information pretty easily. Try the link I’ve attached below. With your grandmothers help and a little bit of basic information you should do just fine. If you run into any snags along the way please feel free to shoot me and email at email@example.com. I’d be happy to assist. Semper Fi.
My great grandfather was in the 5th marine division and was kia on iwo jima. I’m desperate to find out more info. Maybe there’s a veteran from the 5th that remembers him. I was told by my grandmother that he joined up when he was 34. Quite a bit older than most. She said most of the guys looked up to him because he was older. That may help someone remember him. I really just want to learn all I can about my grandfather that gave his life for our country. Something I am very tour of. His name was William F. Boyd. Pvt 5th marine division.
Hi. My dad delbert o greenlee of sioux falls sd was also in the 5th division. You should contact my brother david greenlee of garretson sd, as he knows more than me
I am free today because the brave men of the U.S. Military confront our nation’s enemy today, and fought honorably, relentlessly and victoriously for me and you during WWII. I am 59 yrs. old, and with each and every breathing moment I am respectfully grateful. Thank You Sargent! ☝👍 👌
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