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Old 7 December 2017, 00:10
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Iwo Jima, worth a read

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capital, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, 'Where are you guys from?'

I told him that we were from Wisconsin. 'Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story.'

(It was James Bradley) who just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who had passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, DC, but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night.)

'My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book called 'Flags of Our Fathers'. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.

'Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called 'War.' But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old - and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) 'You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph...a photograph of his girlfriend Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

'The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank ... (from Johnstown, PA). Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the 'old man' because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

'The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes was one of them who lived to walk off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad President Truman told him, 'You're a hero' He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?'

So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle, at the age of 32 (ten years after this picture was taken).

'The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.' Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

'The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews.

When Walter Cronkite's producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back.' My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.

'You see, like Ira Hayes, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died on Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the pain.

'When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'

'So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time.'

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is, that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of 'hands' raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.
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Old 7 December 2017, 00:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remington Raider View Post
One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is, that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of 'hands' raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.
That's cool, I didn't know that.
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Old 7 December 2017, 05:30
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Thanks for sharing, that section of town always gets to me.
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Old 7 December 2017, 05:50
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What an incredible story. Thank you for sharing that.
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Old 7 December 2017, 06:26
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Old 7 December 2017, 06:31
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What a great story, thank you for sharing it.
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Old 7 December 2017, 07:13
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Thanks. Made me think of my Uncle Freddy who served on Iwo Jima. He was a great guy but it had clearly affected him.
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Old 7 December 2017, 09:01
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Now words...just wow.
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Old 7 December 2017, 09:16
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That was a very cool story. If you drive down the road 30 miles, at the Marine Corps Museum is a docent, Frank Matthews, who was a Marine at Iwo Jima (and other places). He will talk about his experiences as long as you let him.
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Old 7 December 2017, 09:55
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Wow! Living History.
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Old 7 December 2017, 10:10
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WOW, just wow. When I was on active duty I remember thinking about how much shit I had to carry, then would see a photo of the Marines landing at Iwo, or any other Pacific landing in WWII, with just a cartridge belt with a couple of magazine pouches and a canteen, with a steel helmet and wearing nothing else but their uniform. Fucking STUDS.
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Old 7 December 2017, 10:21
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Thanks for that.
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Old 7 December 2017, 10:42
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Cool story RR...thanks for sharing!

Went to a funeral a few years back for a hs buddy of mine's father. They were reviewing his life during the service which blew me away...

Enlisted in the Corp at 16. Wounded at IWO when he was 17. Had a pic of him with his rifle...it was almost as big as him!! Came back and had a successful professional career.

Hard to imagine my little guy going off to war when he was that age..... God Bless those guys!!!
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Old 7 December 2017, 10:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remington Raider View Post

...One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is, that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of 'hands' raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.
Not to be a killjoy, but that's an urban myth; there are only 12 hands raising the flag.

Semper Fidelis...
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Old 7 December 2017, 12:34
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when I was with k3/9 I believe in 88 we went to IWO, it was a humbling experience to me. all the bunkers and caves, I have some pics of that time.
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Old 7 December 2017, 13:22
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Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
Not to be a killjoy.
Speaking of being a killjoy, in 2016, after a pretty lengthy investigation by private citizens, the Corps concluded and announced that John Bradley didn't participate in the second flag raising, the one on which the memorial is based. The person long identified as him was instead Corporal Harold Schultz.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/04/u...dley.html?_r=0
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Old 7 December 2017, 13:35
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Always humbling to hear from men like this.
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Old 7 December 2017, 13:46
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Nice article, it was a good read. To give credit to the author of the article in the original post, as well as link to the title of book from which it came: http://www.hearttouchers.com/iwojima
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Old 7 December 2017, 15:08
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Navajo Code Talker, Marine Veteran George B. Willie Sr. remembered for heroic service to the nation
12/05/2017 05:01 PM EST

Navajo Code Talker, Marine Veteran George B. Willie Sr. remembered for heroic service to the nation

WASHINGTON – Today Navajo Code Talker, Marine Veteran George B. Willie Sr passed away after a storied life of service to our nation. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a 17-year old in 1943.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) honors the heroism, commitment and dedication of Willie and his comrades that made up the elite Navajo Code Talkers.
Willie’s wartime service began as a private in the 10th Battalion of the Second Marine Division as part of a specially chosen Navajo-speaking contingent of Marines. The “Code Talkers” spoke in their Native American tribal language that was effectively a code that the enemy was unable to crack throughout the war despite many efforts to do so.
According to Marine Corps University history of the Navajo Code Talker Program, it was established in September 1942.
“Once the code talkers completed training in the States, they were sent to the Pacific for assignment to the Marine combat divisions,” the MCU history says. “In May 1943…[in a] request for a report on the subject, the various division commanders reported to the Commandant that excellent results had been achieved [by] Navajo code talkers in training and combat situations, and that they had performed in a highly commendable fashion. This high degree of praise concerning the Navajos’ performances prevailed throughout the war and came from commanders at all levels.”
“Our nation will continue to honor and pay tribute to the Navajo Code Talkers, such as George Willie Sr., for countless generations to come.” said VA Secretary David Shulkin. “Their unique contribution to the Marine Corps and the Army during World War II provides an enduring symbol of pride for the families of these great Veterans and of the nation.”
President Trump celebrated the history of the Code Talkers on Nov. 27 in a special White House ceremony.
“I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people,” President Trump said.

http://links.govdelivery.com/track?t...et.cfm?id=3982
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Old 7 December 2017, 18:07
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I recall hearing The Ballad of Ira Hayes on an old Johnny Cash tape my dad gave me at ten years old. I later learned he was one of the six. So many of the stories of war will never be told. The state of our country and the general lack of respect many show for the flag boggles my mind when contrasted with the love of country these men demonstrated. So many WW2 veterans lied about age to do their part. Truly inspiring.
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