Sunday, May 2, 2010

Episode 8 The Pacific

Jerry gave tonight's episode his seal of approval.

The show started with the 1st MARDIV recuperating from Peleliu. It then moved to John Basilone and followed him on the War Bond Tour, to home to his family and then out to Camp Pendleton with the 5th MARDIV.

John Basilone starts working out and pushes his men hard. Jerry began chuckling about Gunny Basilone barging into the barracks in the middle of the night, waking the Marines up.

He gave me a wry look and said; "What was it they said when they came into wake us up. One DI would always be screaming at us. Oh yeah it went something like this. .......Drop..." Sorry we are G Rated here. You Marines know exactly what the verse is!

Basilone gets married and he winds up with the 5th on Iwo. Jerry immediately said that the 5th was at the opposite end of the beach where he landed.

I asked if the depiction of combat was accurate. "Oh it was a pretty accurate portrayal of how it was. We woke up and they gave us a big breakfast of ham and eggs coffee.... everything. Then we got into the boats at about 0430 and circled. We didn't hit the beach until after 0900. The commanders had to make a decision as to whether we'd hit the beach or not. The thing that sticks out was the Volcanic ash. I ran on alot of beaches. Iwo was different. You couldn't get traction to run. It was extremely difficult and slowed everyone down in getting off the beach. You would dig a fox hole and it would collapse.

I can remember jumping into a hole and starting a conversation with a guy. It was a one sided conversation. I checked and he was dead. Wounded and dead were everywhere. You have to understand that almost 1800 guys were piling onto the beach from every wave. Too many guys were put on the beach at the same time.

I really feel that alot of the casualties resulted from the poor traction. You couldn't go anywhere fast. So if you were getting shot at it was tough running on the beach. I think that's why so many guys got hit. No where to go and everyone bunched up.

I finally saw a bunch of guys underneath a pill box. They weren't getting shot at as the Japanese couldn't get the angle. So I ran to where they were. Then I threw a couple of grenades up at the pillbox. Eventually some demolition guys came over and they put bangalore torpedos underneath. They called "fire in the hole". Then dropped the Pillbox down the hill. We cleaned it out and used it as a commo bunker with all of our radios.

The medics got pretty busy. They did a tremendous job."

When did you know about Basilone getting hit?

"It wasn't for several days later that we found out. We were busy with are own stuff and when it came out that he was killed it overshadowed alot of other people who got killed. Basilone was famous because of his actions at Guadalcanal. Some high ranking officers were killed on Iwo. More was said about Basilone because of his exploits."

When did Jonesy get hit?

"Jonesy got hit about eight or nine days after we landed. That was awful hard. I was close to him because we had formed a bond in combat. We had cleaned out caves together on Saipan. We lost so many guys in a short amount of time at Iwo.

I was sitting there on the beach after Jones got hit a second time in the landing craft. Another Marine came along and asked if I was OK. I said I am alive." The Marine replied. " Ok grab your gear and move out . We got to get back up to the front." So off I moved. It wasn't the same though." Jerry continued

I wasn't really close in a sense to anyone else. Jones and I had a special bond. We had been through alot at Saipan. I went out for a beer with the replacements but it was different."(Back in Hawaii)

We also didn't experience any Banzai charges like on Saipan. The Japanese commander told each Imperial soldier to kill at least 10 of us. At the end sometime in March the Japs did launch a surprise attack on the airfield. Quite a few guys got killed. All the Japs were killed though."


Jones suffered a leg injury where most of his leg was gone. A tourniquet was placed on his leg. Jerry and several Marines rushed him to the beach. Jones was put on an LCVP with other wounded Marines. As the boat was heading out to the hospital ship it took a direct hit. Jerry immediately swam out with other Marines and they brought the wounded to shore.

Jones had now lost his left arm in addition to his leg. Jerry never says who, but I suspect he placed the tourniquet on Jones. Jerry put Jones along with the wounded on another boat and it went to the the hospital ship.

Jerry got word several days later that Jones had died on the ship.

Some of you have heard a version of this story. This episode opened up some more chapters in Jerry's life. It is the story of a Marine in combat. Hard and brutal. Somethings that won't ever be forgotten. Jonesy and Jerry were tight. That was made very clear.

"Just cruel and unusual punishment is all I can think of what happened. Guys getting hit multiple times. We'd fix a guy up and he'd get hit again. It was so unfair in a sense. I just still don't understand why. To this day... I was just so very lucky. I never realized how lucky I really was. I found out not to long ago that of 900 guys that hit the beach at Iwo Jima in my unit, only 150 walked off." Jerry got that far away look and shrugged his shoulders.

We spoke of things that took place in the days afterwards and then when he left Iwo. Higher Headquarters put out the word looking for volunteers to man the Navy Chow Lines. FOOD??? What Sherlock would say no to food? ( Damn near had a riot on Sunday when he was put on portions for dessert after Kegan's confirmation.)

Jerry left Iwo Jima and moved onto a US Navy ship. The Sailors treated him well upon arrival. Jerry prepped the chow on the Navy vessel.

"I was pretty ragged. The sailors ran a hot shower and then put me in Navy dungarees. They made me steak and I got to eat plenty of ice cream. They really treated me very well. Eventually a Gunny caught up to me just before we got to Hawaii and told me to put on USMC dungarees. That was the end of that." That trademark grin and laugh.

Jerry would commence training for an as of yet undetermined target. He felt that it may have been Honsho.

Jack Sherlock was in a Tank Destroyer Battalion pushing through German lines.

"My brother Jack was involved at the battle of the Remagen Bridge and helped capture it."

That battle took place 7-8 March 1945. German troops did attempt to blew it but it was a low order detonation. The bridge was captured intact and vehicles got over it. The bridge finally did collapse on 17 March-1945.

Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone lay at Iwo Jima unti his remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetary in 1948.

27 Medals of Honor were awarded for actions at Iwo Jima. 23 to US MARINES. 4 to Sailors.

That would amount to 28% of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to the Marine Corps in World War Two.
More Medals of Honor then any other Battle to date.
25,851 casualties. 1 in 3 would die.
6,285 Americans were killed there. US Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen.

One of those was PFC Jones 1st JASCO 3rd BN 25th Marines 4th MARDIV from Colorado.

"Among the men who fought at Iwo Jima, Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue."

Admiral ChesterW. Nimitz
March 1945

No comments: