Jerry came for Easter Dinner. The Palardy's dropped off Jerry enroute to URI with Oliver. Great dinner. We were able to surprise Jerry with something special. I was able to locate a 4th Marine Division (MARDIV) Book online. It was a little weathered but in good shape. Jerry's original copy is a little battered from constant use and changing of hands. He was extremely happy and promised to take good care of it. Jerry has to take Steve Cileli and I out for lunch. That was the deal.
Del Brouillard, Rita's uncle was a veteran of the 4th MARDIV, who got hit at Iwo. Jerry never knew him until after the war. Del didn't receive a book as a command decision was made to only give a copy to the guys who mustered out at the end of the war. A photo of Del dated 1944:
Jerry said that the KIA guys families didn't receive a copy as it may have proven to much of a painful reminder. The wounded guys didn't get one either.
While watching the show Jerry chuckled,
"Great ad for anti-smoking. Everyone smoked back then just like in Pacific. A carton of smokes was .50 cents. God, we threw out our gas mask to make room for cigarettes and socks. Profits from those sales paid for the Book."I had to go to Washington early Monday and told Jerry I was headed for the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He immediately gave me pointers on the visit. Must see, The LCVP ride into Iwo. He said that when he went, he was standing between his sons and when the shells passed over head, it was pretty realistic for an expert like himself. He said it was a must do. He was right.
Bob Leckie and the 1st MARDIV hit Cape Gloucester, close combat and sickness set in. Rain was constant. Many of the troops were done in. Jerry did say guys handled it differently. One guy named Sherlock, from Syracuse, NY. ( No relation.) had an issue at the end when the 4th was heading home from Pearl Harbor. Sherlock was a pretty fearless Marine and good in combat, Jerry said.
"It shook us that he had an issue at the end. Far from combat and close to shipping home."Not much was said overall about stress back then. It was called combat fatigue. The theory was to treat the guys close to the front line and try and get them back quick. We know now that stress effects people differently. Some of the World War Two vets had issues that were never addressed and suffered. It is handled much differently now. Servicemen and women are encouraged to talk it out and work through the emotions of combat. Jerry said that it probably should have been done back then but the events of the time were ever evolving and that stress was not an import issue at the time. Winning a World War and defeating the AXIS powers was the task at hand.
I've known Jerry for most I've my adult life. In our talks I've realized he has experienced close quarters combat for extended periods of time. If you have read anything about combat in the Pacific Theater of Operations it was brutal, close, and at times hand to hand.
I doubt most of you can envision Jerry as a battle hardened Marine Rifleman. Look at any picture of a Combat Marine throughout time and they all have a certain expression "The Look". From going over the wall at Peking, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Peleilu, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Chosin Resevoir, Hue, Hill 881, Beirut, Afghanistan, Fallujah and places in between "THE LOOK". The Marines have spilled their share of Blood to keep this country free.
To hear Jerry say he walked off Iwo Jima with only 150 guys from a regiment of 900 strong is chilling. So the next time you complain about your mundane little life, stop. Think about all the service men and women who have sacrificed over time. What they have seen and done has changed them forever.
"You have never lived until you have almost died. And for those that fight for it, life has a certain flavor that the protected shall never know."
Truly if you know Jerry, he is a man who cherishes his family and is extremely proud of his sons and daughters. Material things don't mean alot to him. It's his family that has always remained important. Combat changes people and how they live their lives after speaks volumes to the strength of character.
"Freedom isn't free, but the Marine Corps will pay most of your share."