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10/20/2017 1:01:18 AM
9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/26/2005 9:03:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/26/2005 9:13:13 AM EDT by pzjgr]
Ehh, probably a dupe, if so I apologize, but I thought it was good...


The Boys of Iwo Jima

Claim: Article describes talk given to a group of Wisconsin schoolchildren at the Iwo Jima memorial.

Status: True.

Example: [Powers, 2000]

Each year my video production company is hired to go to Washington, D.C. with the eighth grade class from Clinton, Wisconsin where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history-that of the six brave men raising the American flag at the top of Mount Surabachi on the Island of Iwo Jima, Japan during WW II. Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "What's your name and where are you guys from?

I told him that my name was Michael Powers and that we were from Clinton, Wisconsin.

"Hey, I'm a Cheesehead, too! Come gather around Cheeseheads, and I will tell you a story."

James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, D.C. to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good-night to his dad, who had previously passed away, but whose image is part of the statue. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C. but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night. When all had gathered around he reverently began to speak. Here are his words from that night:

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called Flags of Our Fathers which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me. Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game, a game called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of twenty-one, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out; I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen years old.

(He pointed to the statue)

You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken, and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph. A photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection, because he was scared. He was eighteen years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already twenty-four. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, "Let's go kill the enemy" or "Let's die for our country." He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, "You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers."

The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, "You're a hero." He told reporters, "How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only twenty-seven of us walked off alive?"

So you take your class at school. 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only twenty-seven of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of thirty-two, ten years after this picture was taken.

The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky, a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, "Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epson salts. Those cows crapped all night."

Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of nineteen. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, "No, I'm sorry sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back."

My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually he was sitting right there at the table eating his Campbell's soup, but we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press. You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died, and when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.

When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, "I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. DID NOT come back."

So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero in his own eyes, but a hero nonetheless.

Origins: The above-quoted article was written in October 2000 by Wisconsin resident Michael T. Powers (whose name has been omitted from most of the Internet-circulated versions), transcribed from a videotape he made of a talk given by author James Bradley at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Bradley, whose father, John, was one of the six men pictured in the famous photograph of the flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi in February 1945 (and is thus depicted in the monument's sculpture), had earlier that year published Flags of Our Fathers, an account of the life stories of those six men.

My Grandfathers cousin Willy was a Marine in WWII, he was at Iwo, and several other islands and campaigns. My dad and his son Butch grew up together in North Jersey. He would never talk about his experiences, except when he got really drunk. Then he told my dad and Butch some hair raising stories.

He had his M1 Carbine which he shipped home in pieces, he said it saved his ass too many times for him to turn it in. He gave my dad his MK II KA-BAR knife in its leather sheath, which my dad gave me. It was used plenty in the Pacific from what I was told. I actually carried it on my LBE when I was in the Army, Desert Shield/Storm timeframe. It now sits in a place of honor in my curio cabinet.

Butch and my dad found his photo album one day...he said there were pics of Willy and his buddies on the islands, in foxholes, all sorts of things. Including pics of Willy and his buddies holding burnt, severed Jap heads and grinning. Willy was really pissed when he found them with it, and took it away.

Willy went to his grave with a deep hatred of Japanese and all things Japanese. He never forgave them....

These men saw and did things that many cannot comprehend, and these and men like them are what the modern left and the liberals, progressives, democrat, whatever they call themselves piss all over with their crap they spew. We support the troops, indeed...these are men Cindy Sheehan pisses on everday when she opens her cock holster. I do so hate them.....
(Cindy Sheehan, the liberals, and their ilk obviously...not the warriors who served and continue to serve!)
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 9:12:07 AM EDT
The book is an excellent read!

Makes you relise how much they sacrificed for future generations.

Link Posted: 8/26/2005 9:31:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Jm03:
The book is an excellent read!

Makes you relise how much they sacrificed for future generations.


Amen, brother!
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 9:57:34 AM EDT
The best book on the Pacific War ever written.

My uncle/Godfather (with whom I lived for several years) fought at Iwo with the 5th Mar Div. That book came out right before he died. I made him read it so we could discuss it, which he did. I taped our discussion and have the tape in my safe. Can't tell you how glad I am I did that!
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:00:44 AM EDT
I read somewhere about the member of that squad that was the B A R Gunner and had to clean his piece and had to miss that re raising so he wasn't in the picture. Sucks to be him.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:02:46 AM EDT
again, can't wait for the movie!!!
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:05:27 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Dusty_C:
I read somewhere about the member of that squad that was the B A R Gunner and had to clean his piece and had to miss that re raising so he wasn't in the picture. Sucks to be him.

I don't remember anything like that in the book (Flags of Our Fathers), but that doesn't mean anything.

But if true, I'm sure the other six guys considered him the luckiest SOB there.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:06:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/26/2005 10:07:43 AM EDT by BayEagle]

Originally Posted By pzjgr:

Willy went to his grave with a deep hatred of Japanese and all things Japanese. He never forgave them....

Sounds familiar. All the men in my family who were in the South Pacific hated Japs their whole lives up to and including today. My relatives who fought in Europe didn't have near that degree of raw hate.

ETA - Here is the group from the 1st flagraising on their way up Suribachi:

Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:11:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BayEagle:

Originally Posted By pzjgr:

Willy went to his grave with a deep hatred of Japanese and all things Japanese. He never forgave them....

Sounds familiar. All the men in my family who were in the South Pacific hated Japs their whole lives up to and including today. My relatives who fought in Europe didn't have near that degree of raw hate.

Yeah, I noticed that too....I had two relatives in the Pacific, one Marine, one squid who was on an LST. They both hated anything Japanese until they died....

My Grandfather (Moms dad) on the other hand, fought in Europe, through the Bulge, into Germany, and occupation duty, had a respect for the Germans he fought against, and never really hated them....The few times I asked him about things, he said the Germans were very good soldiers...

Different type of wars, different enemies
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:31:47 AM EDT
Oh, almost forgot...can't forget my Mom's Uncle Georgie who died earlier this year...he was on the sub Tautog in the Pacific...was on her for a couple of years, until he got claustrophobia real bad, and had to transfer to the surface fleet, went to DE's.

I remember my mom telling me he never liked getting on elevators.....

I think there were some Air Corps guys in my family too. I really need to sit down with my parents and pick their brains to figure out all the relatives who served in WWII....
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 10:55:55 AM EDT
Who cares if it's a dupe, everyone should read that at least twice. I personally thank-you for posting that wonderful, moving story. My dad served in WWII, was in Germany when it fell and would never talk about it. God Bless all those men and boys and God continue to Bless our men, women and boys in harms way now.

Semper Fi

Link Posted: 8/26/2005 11:01:28 AM EDT
The planting of the flag on Mt. Suribachi will always be one of the great moral victories in American history. I worked for an old Navy guy who was in the Pacific at the end of WWII. He said he could see the flag flying on Iwo Jima from the fleet on his LST. He said it was an awesome inspiration. He was later among the first to go into Nagasaki after the war. He said that despite the enormous horror he saw as a result of the atomic bomb blast, he knew that the bomb was indeed the ultimate instrument of peace.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 11:09:22 AM EDT
I just finished reading "Flags of our Fathers" a couple of weeks ago. It was without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read.
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