Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; A Veteran Recalls the Battle of Iwo Jima

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; A Veteran Recalls the Battle of Iwo Jima

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Orth

A great Marine friend of mine, who now lives in Texas, was not quite 18 when he hit the beach on Iwo Jima on Feb. 15, 1945.

Since Feb. 23, 1945, was the day the American flag was raised on Mount Suribachi, I contacted Paul Merriman, and he filled me in on one of the toughest battles in military history, Iwo Jima.

This is his story.

I landed on Iwo Jima with the 31st Infantry Replacement early on D-Day right behind the first assault guys of the 27th Regiment.

We were pinned down a lot from rifle fire from Mount Suribachi on the left and the high ground on the right.

Then after we had landed and packed the beaches (three Marine divisions), the Japanese artillery started dropping shells on us.

It was just a killing zone the first three days and nights.

Then on the fourth day, around 10:30 a.m., we looked up on Mount Suribachi and saw an American flag!

Our Marines had taken the hill. We yelled and hollered, the 600 ships around us rang their bells and honked their horns.

We felt that we were losing, and then there is a flag! We were excited, we were renewed, there was a chance to win.

It was the greatest day of my life.

Later, around 2 p.m., a second, larger flag replacing the first small flag was raised, resulting in the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal. The battle had just begun - it lasted 28 more days - and most of the flag-raisers were killed in the next few days.

Around March 1, about six of us were sent up to close caves with dynamite, torching passed-over bunkers, killing snipers, mopping up, then we went back into the front line.

We battled and moved ahead daily, slow progress, terrible casualties, very rugged terrain.

The Japanese kept coming into our foxholes at night until we got a war dog. He would growl, and they stayed away. We loved that dog!

On March 10, our company (about 30 guys, down from over 200) just rose up and charged ahead, shooting and yelling like a Banzai charge. …

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