Iwo Jima monument welcome in Bradenton

July 13, 2013 

Iwo Jima Monument Auction

This photo combination shows, at left, a 1945 photo of the original 12 1/2-foot cast stone version of Felix de Weldon's iconic statue depicting soldiers raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, placed in front of the old Navy Department Building, now the Federal Reserve Building, in Washington, D.C.; and, at right, de Weldon's 32-foot-tall bronze Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va.. Courtesy of RODNEY HILTON BROWN, left, and JACQUELYN MARTIN, right

AP

I read last Sunday's article about the Iwo Jima memorial written by Vin Mannix. I served with the 8th Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the 8th Naval SeaBees. It was an outfit you never hear about.

We had over a thousand men in our outfit and they broken up on four different ships. Expecting to land D+3, everyone thought that taking the island was going to be a piece of cake, but when the Marines hit the hellish black sand, all hell broke loose.

We didn't go in until D+7.

I heard the yelling when they raised the flag. The first flag was raised by Hank Hansen, Boots Thomas, Harold Schrier, Louis Charlo, Jim Michaels and Chuck Lindberg. The second flag was raised by Mike Strank, Frank Sousley, Harlow Block, Ira Hayes, Gene Gagnon and John H. Bradley.

This is an island that should never be forgotten. There have been movies about it and books written about it.

One never forgets the stench of death of these great servicemen. The monument would be appropriate to honor all these great men. I have seen it all and I assure you it was no picnic.

After the SeaBees did their work, we were to go on our way to invade Japan but instead were dropped off at Guam, came home and were discharged from San Diego, Calif.

I'll turn 90 Aug. 7 and must say I have lived quite an adventurous life and would do it over again -- to fight and save this great country of ours.

I say God bless America and please put up the statue -- it's well deserved.

James Moneck

Bradenton

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