Magazine article Corrections Today

Tampa Florida General Session: Impossible Dreams Do Come True

Magazine article Corrections Today

Tampa Florida General Session: Impossible Dreams Do Come True

Article excerpt

At the Opening Session, James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers, challenged conference attendees to pursue impossible dreams. He relayed his father's story of heroism as a Marine on Iwo Jima in 1945 and his own fight to publish an account of the heroic events. With the famous photo of the Iwo Jima flag raising on the screens behind him, Bradley said, "When I look at this photo, it represents the concept of doing the impossible."

Bradley explained that the war tactic used in the Pacific, amphibious assault, was deemed impossible by the military after the development of automatic weapons--until the 1920s when Marine Holland McTyeire "Howlin' Mad" Smith foresaw the need to train Marines in the tactic. Smith said, "We are going to do the impossible, and we are going to do the impossible well."

When Bradley's father, John Bradley, passed away, Bradley found three boxes of Iwo Jima memories and began his quest to discover the stories of the other five men in the famous photo--Harlon Block, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley and Michael Strank. Bradley's father had never spoken of Iwo Jima during his life, but in a letter Bradley found after his father's death, he had written that putting up that flag was the happiest moment of his life. Bradley said that contacting the families of the other Marines was a way to find out more about his father. "What I wanted to know was: Who was my dad on that Feb. 23, 1945?" he said. …

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