"On a very cold final day of 2009 we laid to rest Harry Ash Pearce, an 87 year old World War II? Veteran.? An active Marine Corps Honor Guard participated in the service and flag folding, along with our local Marine Corps League accompanied by the sweet sounds of the pipes bewailing our blessed hymn.
Submitted by John Ratomski
Photograph caption reads:
Peleliu was invaded on September 15, 1944. Pontoons were under the direction of Lieut.-Comdr. Littlejohn. Peleliu had been Jap-held for twenty years and it was the nearest strike, at the time, to the Philippines, some six hundred miles to the west. The reef was five hundred yards off-shore and entailed the longest causeway construction from ship to shore up to that time in the Pacific. The reef was in perfect Jap mortar range and they kept it well covered. Barges stood in close to refuel small craft and LVT's as the Marines kept driving further inland to stop the mortar fire. Surf delayed unloading operations as heavy seas broke over the causeways. A few days later, a new landing was made on the other side of the island. Tanks and guns came ashore and the Marines were fighting steadily on against the stubborn defender who was doomed.
I have had the privilege and honor of visiting many of our WW2 Marine battlefields over the years and this past January, I visited Peleliu for the second time. With almost a full week of exploration, I was able to traverse much of the battlefield and get a feel for the terrain that our Marines dealt with in 1944. While the jungle has taken over much of the battlefield, one can still readily see how impossible the terrain was……craggy, sharp coral dominates the battlefield, whether it be low-lying coral ridges or the Umobrogal Mountains. I can't imagine fighting there, especially considering that in September 1944, there was very little foliage and the temperatures hovered around 100 degrees. We explored Bloody Nose Ridge, Pope's Ridge, the Point, and the coral Badlands, just to name a few. Signs of a desperate, horrific fight were everywhere. A Japanese tank still sits on the airfield where it was taken out by the 5th Marines…LTV's can be found…….shrapnel and battlefield debris are everywhere. We climbed and crawled through Bloody Nose Ridge, stopping at each fighting position, marveling at how the 1st Division Marines conquered a dug in enemy. While Iwo Jima and Tarawa hold much of our attention in Marine Corps history, Peleliu is arguably the toughest battle our Marines fought in WW2, when you consider the ferocity of the enemy, the climate, and the terrain.
I have attached a picture from our Armed Forces/Memorial Day Parade. The Grand Marshall was Les Brown, a WWII Pacific Guadalcanal Combat vet. The Marine Corps Recruiters picked him up and drove him in the Parade in the new Hummer. PFC Brown is wearing his uniform from 1944. He is one of the few that could still fit in his uniform. The Marines from the Albany Detachment were impressed and the CO and Sgt. Major came to greet him.
Thanks so much for the little piece of real estate so many gave their lives securing. That little bag is pinned to the photo of the Rosenthal picture in my office. I now have a conflict. After reading the letters of some of the 399 other recipients, I feel unworthy of owning this little bit of sacred soil. I served from 84 to 97 and was in three hot spots during my career. None of which compares to the fight for Iwo Jima. I am the Commandant of the Lehigh Valley Det in Allentown, PA. I?ve gone through the roster of members and none served on IWO. So my dilemma is whom to do I present this artifact too? The letter that struck me was of the Marine who will spread some on the grave of his uncle. What a fitting tribute. I feel lucky to be one of the 400 and am grateful. I hope to find a deserving Marine in the future. Thanks again and Semper Fi!
February 20 and 21, 2009 – 64th Anniversary Iwo Jima Landing and Flag Raising Commemoration in Sacaton, Arizona
"The flag doesn't wave because the wind blows it. It waves with the last breath of every service member that has given his life for this grand and great nation." Marshall Tall Eagle Serna
On February 19, 1945, a large contingent of Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima facing an equally substantial army of Japanese defenders. One of the bloodiest, fiercest four days of combat ensued. Iwo Jima became the most populous 7 square miles on the planet as U. S. Marines and Japanese soldiers fought a battle that would test American resolve symbolizing a free society's willingness to make the sacrifice necessary to prevail over evil. A SACRIFICE AS RELEVANT TODAY AS IT WAS THEN.
133rd Seabees Stay Unsung
Submitted by John Ratomski
The Fourth Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the Iwo Jima battle and the 133rd Seabee Battalion was not, although: 1) the 133rd was part of the 4th Marine Division from Nov. 1, 1944 until March 1945 2) The 133rd was not a support unit, but was used as a Marine Pioneer Battalion during the battle. 3) The 133rd NCB and the 4th Pioneer Battalion both became shore parties for the 23rd and 25th Regimental Combat Teams of the 4th Marine Division for the assault phase on Iwo-Jima. Official Battle Plans on record show this. 4) The Presidential Unit Citation declared that the Pioneer units were assault units and did not state that the133rd were support troops, therefore the 133rd would have to be considered assault troops. 5) The entire 133rd landed with the first waves and suffered 40% casualties. That exceeded the casualties of the 4th Pioneer Battalion. The 4th Pioneers were awarded the Citation the 133rd was not. 6) The 133rd acted in the same capacity as the 4th Pioneer Battalion for the 23RCT, wearing issued Marine uniforms, subject to Marine regulations as part of the Fourth Marine Division. assault team and not as a support group. 7) In addition they were awarded 10 Bronze Stars and 29 Fourth Marine Division Commendations in recognition for their part in the assault phases of operations. 8) The 133rd NCB wore its uniform proudly as Navy and wore its uniform proudly as Marines! They served both with distinction. They earned and deserve the recognition that is still not theirs.
Thought you might appreciate this man's stories.
He has many stories about present day Vietnam and events that take place in Vietnam.