Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Anniversary of Iwo Jima

Feb. 19th is the date the first American troops landed on that island, and began some of the bloodiest combat of World War II.

I had two great-uncles. Ray spent WWII getting a government-paid tour of Europe as a rifleman in Patton's Third Army; he's never spoken to anyone in the family about it, just a little about some of the souvineers he brought back.

George, who died last year, was a diver in the Navy, and spent a lot of time in the Pacific. S&R and salvage of both our and Japanese vessels, and among the places he went to was Iwo Jima. He never spoke of it, either, except for one time...
When Bill Clinton was trying to drum up support to invade Iraq, remember the 'town meeting' where a bunch of people, especially some old veterans, tore his butt apart over it? My dad and I were visiting George at the time, and as this went on- interspersed with some video of Marines training for assault landings- George started talking. Some about what he'd done himself, some about what he'd seen, including "all those boys dead on the beach and in the water"at Iwo. He believed that Clinton was only talking it up because he thought he'd get political points for it, not because he really believed it needed to be done, and for George that was it; that made Clinton a sorry opportunist not to be trusted with the lives of others.

That was the only time he ever said a word about the War that put him on a partial-disability pension. He and Ray had done the same thing; finished a dirty job that needed doing, then came home and put their lives back together. I figure I'm the richer, and my kids also, for having known the two of them.

I will not forget George's words that night about what he'd seen & done. We need to make sure we never forget those who went and did.

Note: Kim du Toit notes that Adam of the Walter & Adam Fund died in Mosul from a car bomb explosion on Feb. 17th.

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