IWO TO, Japan - As the rain trickled down on a cloudy day,
Marines trudged along a muddy path on an island where decades before
so many had made the ultimate sacrifice.
Marines and sailors visited the island of Iwo Jima, which was
renamed Iwo To in 2007, during a professional military education
tour May 17, 2013.
The event provided an opportunity for the
Marines and sailors of Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18,
Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine
Expeditionary Force, to see, experience and evaluate the incredible
challenges Japanese and American troops endured during the Battle of
Iwo Jima as part of the Pacific campaign of World War II.
Marines and sailors sit on the beach with their eyes closed in
reflection while Staff Sgt. Jason L. Day details the Battle of Iwo
Jima during their visit May 17, 2013. During the visit, Marines and
sailors took time to reflect and envision the events that transpired
during the battle. Day and the Marines and sailors are assigned to
Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, Marine Air Control Group 18,
1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S.
Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Terry Brady)
“There is a lot of history on this island that not
everyone is aware of,” said Staff Sgt. Jason L. Day, a wire
chief with MWCS-18. “If they look at this ground from the
perspective of someone during that battle, it will be easier
for the Marines to understand and truly respect our Corps'
Shortly following their arrival on the
island, the Marines and sailors hiked up Mount Suribachi, the ground made famous by Associated
Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's photograph of five
Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag atop
the mountain in 1945.
“Suribachi was one of the
strongest defensive positions occupied by the Imperial
Japanese Army,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick G. Kawano, a motor
transport chief with MWCS-18. “The defenders were able to
survive multiple days of naval bombardment and aerial
bombings before attempting to repel the Marines. That puts
into perspective how difficult it was for the Marines
fighting on the island.”
Upon reaching the precipice
of Suribachi, the visitors reflected on the sacrifices made
by warriors on both sides during the historic battle. To
demonstrate the connection to their fallen comrades, Marines
and sailors left memorabilia such as dog tags and rank
insignias on monuments at the mountain's peak. The unit also
held an awards and re-enlistment ceremony atop Suribachi.
“It was my distinct pleasure in recognizing Marines and
sailors for their hard work at a place like this,” said Lt.
Col. Bret A. Bolding, the commanding officer of MWCS-18.
“It's the embodiment of leadership and what the Marine Corps
is all about.”
The Marines also took time to pause at
the shoreline of the island to discuss and envision the
events that transpired in the fateful battle.
you think about what the Marines before us did, what they
sacrificed here in the battle, it opens your eyes to the
conditions then,” said Kawano. “It's important not to forget
who came before us and not to forget where we come from.”
For many of the Marines and sailors visiting the island,
this was the first and possibly last time they will be able
to visit Iwo To, according to Day.
“Being able to
come here is always good for Marines and sailors,” said Day.
“It allows them to further their professional education and
maintain a tangible connection to Marine Corps history.”
By USMC Lance Cpl. Terry Brady
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