A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spare a Moment to Remember

before the last living memories are gone and the revisionists take over.
Today at breakfast, Pere mentioned that it was the 69th anniversary of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.  When TOF was a kid, we asked him where he was in the famous photograph.  I was in front, he said. I called out, "Put the flag here!" and then kept going while they snapped the picture.  We were young and naive and believed him. But he also told us that he had been killed in the battle, and we believed that, too, and burst into tears at the tragedy. Later, we figured it out.  Hey... Wait a minute...

The baby brothers -- you know who you are -- claim that they would not have been taken in like Dennis and TOF, but Pere could tell a very convincing story.

One sometimes reads that the iconic raising was "staged for the cameras" as a publicity stunt.  But in fact, the second flag was raised because the commanding general wanted a flag that could be seen all over the island.  At lunch one time, Pere recalled the moment when the flag went up.  He was forward in the 5th Division zone and it was an electric moment -- followed an instant later by the horns of all the ships in the task force blaring at once.  
Pere went in on the Red beach IIRC with the 27th Marines. (He was 5th Engineers, attached to
division but broken up among the various regiments.) At the time the flag was raised, he was
up around the airfields with his back to Suribachi.

Japanese riflemen on the mountain
could hit marines all over Iwo.
Pere was just as happy to know that no one was going to be shooting at his back any more.  There was still a month to go.

We asked him once when was the first time he felt old. He said it was on his 20th birthday, when he boarded a troopship to leave the island. 

A while back Sèan told him there were now tour groups for veterans to return to the island. Sèan said he would pay for it. I'll have to think about it, said Pere.  What's to think about? asked Sèan. It's a free trip. 

The last time I got a free trip to Iwo Jima, Pere answered, people started shooting at me.
The Old Man,
when he first felt old


  1. I just told my 9 year old the 2-minute version of the battle, and showed him the picture. Tried to explain how important it was at the time for American soldiers to take an island that close to Japan.

    My dad was a crack welder, so he spent the war on the West Coast, building ships and patching up the ones the Japanese put holes in. One of my uncles flew missions in the Pacific.

  2. The Old Man's still got it. Semper Fi, Marine !

  3. One of the awesome things about my time on ship was that we got to hang around the island for a few weeks. I didn't get to set foot, but-- wow, the history!

  4. OT: It looks like the grasshoppers weren't the only demons to visit Germany:


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