We have reached 75 years since the last year of WWII in 1945. Several significant occurrences happened in 1945. I’ll talk about some of them, beginning with the battle of Iwo Jima, an island in the Pacific from Feb 19-March 26.
This story is an excerpt from my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women from every branch who served:
In February 1945, 18-year-old Edward Robbins of Vincennes, Indiana, fought with the naval crew of the USS Monroe, firing at Japanese troops on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. “Our 16-inch rounds exploded around Japanese soldiers,” he said.
During the battle, he was nearly too busy to notice the actions of a group of Marines and Navy personnel on the top of Mount Suribachi. In a photo taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal the nation was shown six Americans raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi (Note: Two American flags were raised within hours of each other —Rosenthal’s photo was the second raising). The photo reflected the fortitude and teamwork that Americans wanted to believe in. The photo would win an award for Rosenthal and soon become immortalized.
“We didn’t realize that action would become so famous,” said Robbins.
Taking part in exciting naval battles was what 17-year-old Robbins had hoped to see when he quit East High School in Cleveland, Ohio, in January 1944 to enlist in the US Navy. “I was afraid if I waited to graduate, I’d miss all of the action of the war,” he said.
After completing basic training at Great Lakes Naval Center in Chicago, Robbins traveled to San Francisco where he boarded a troop ship, the USS Squier.
By March 1945, Allied troops had captured Iwo Jima, but at considerable cost. More than 26,000 American soldiers had been injured with 6,800 dead. The Japanese lost approximately 20,500 soldiers. “Our medics brought dead bodies and wounded soldiers aboard our ship to be treated,” said Robbins. He later served in the US Army as you can see from his uniform in the photo.
Battles become famous due to their ferocity and lives taken. May we never forget the men who died for our freedoms. Thanks so all veterans reading this. We appreciate your service.
I’ll post more Iwo Jima stories in upcoming weeks.