Academic journal article Military Review

Nightmare on Iwo

Academic journal article Military Review

Nightmare on Iwo

Article excerpt

NIGHTMARE ON IWO, Patrick F Caruso, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2001, 164 pages, $23.95.

The battle for Iwo Jima, which took place over 50 years ago, is still the battle that many believe defines today's Marine Corps. Iwo Jima is the only battle in Marine Corps history where U.S. casualties outnumbered the enemy's. There were no great or grand tactics. The fight was measured in feet and yards, with the enemy fighting from a maze of interconnecting tunnels from which he could see but not be seen.

K Company, 3d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, landed with the third wave. Within one hour of their initial assault, a young 2d Lieutenant, formerly sixth on the company's chain of command, found himself thrust to the fore and required to take the responsibilities of company commander. When it was over, only 40 of the original 230 men in the company remained, 100 percent of the officers were killed or wounded, including the young lieutenant. Patrick Caruso, the author, is that lieutenant.

Wounded on the 14th day of the battle, Caruso was evacuated to a hospital in Guam. There he realized that his mind wanted to forget what he had seen and experienced and that faces and names were becoming difficult to remember. Caruso desperately wanted to keep alive the names and actions of all those who participated, so he began writing his recollections on any paper he could find; hospital napkins, paper bags, hospital reports, or anything else on which he could write were fair game for his notes. …

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