Iwo Jima…in the First Wave  …from boy to man overnight

Available on DVD with $25 donation (free SH)

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 AP Photo

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Lorin Myring
5th Marine Div.

Robert Dent interviewed WW II Marine veteran Lorin Myring and produced a 51 minute biographical documentary of his 36 day combat experiences on Iwo Jima and close friendship with a Navaho Code Talker who did not survive the battle.

The released film chronicles Myring’s 1943 enlistment in the Marine Corps at 18 years of age and his assignment to HQ CO, 1st BTN, 27th Marines, 5th Division. He was trained in cryptology and communications and tasked to work with a Navaho Code Talker for the February 19, 1945 invasion of Iwo Jima, code named “Operation Detachment”. It involved over 110,000 military personnel from all branches of the services, including over 70,000 Marines who were tasked to land during the assault of the tiny eight square mile “sulphur island”.

Iwo Jima was vitally important in the defeat of Japan as it could be used as an airbase for attacks on mainland Japan. It already had airfields in use. In fact, Japanese fighters were wreaking havoc by harassing and shooting down B-29s going to and returning from bombing raids over Japan. Additionally, Iwo Jima was half the distance between mainland Japan and American bases in the Mariana Islands. The capture of the island would provide an emergency landing strip for crippled B-29s and could be used as a base to launch air strikes against the Japanese homeland…and both Americans and Japanese knew it.

The 72 day, “softening up” pre-bombardment of Iwo Jima started on December 8, 1944 by B-29 Superfortresses and B-24 Liberators of the 7th Air Force which was supported by Marine and Naval aircraft. They had dropped almost 6,000 tons of bombs on more than 700 targets in 2,650 sorties. It was the longest sustained daily bombardment of any target in the Pacific War. In addition, on February 16th six battleships, five cruisers, and many destroyers began shelling targets for three days. On D-Day three more battleships and three additional cruisers arrived and fired at point blank range. When there were pauses in the fighting, aircraft carrier based airplanes dropped more bombs, fired rockets, and strafed enemy positions. Unfortunately, the bombings and shelling did little to destroy hardened concrete bunkers, hidden coastal guns, and 1500 underground rooms interconnected by sixteen miles of tunnels. “We didn’t think anyone or anything would be alive when we landed. We were told this would be a 3 day operation. Instead, it took 36 days of bloody combat… and a lot of good men,” said Myring.

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Mt. Surabachi
(AP) Photo

He vividly recalls D-Day of the invasion, February 19, 1945, and what the first assault wave to land on the black sands of Iwo Jima was like for the invading troops. The terrible carnage on that day, and many others to follow …was unforgettable.  Shelling from rail guns concealed in caves and huge mortars caused bodies and body parts to fly everywhere. The constant machine gun fire, booby traps, and sudden death from hidden spider holes was merciless. The screams of the wounded and dying were heart-breaking . There must have been over 500 dead on the beach and thousands wounded that first day,” said Myring.Myring himself was wounded on D+14 and remembers suffering a severe concussion from a mortar explosion that killed his Code Talker friend…Willie Notah.  After recovering for 3 days on a stretcher on the beach that was still under fire, Myring returned to fight the remaining 22 days of the battle…and the horrific nights. “It was not uncommon in the darkness to find a Marine in his foxhole with his throat cut… or find him missing altogether.   One time we found a tortured Marine hanging by his thumbs in a cave. He had been bayoneted several times, his eyes gouged out, genitalia removed, and tongue cut out, It was a terrible thing so see,” Myring said… as his voice trailed off.

Myring sadly recalls another tragic event that occurred in the early morning hours of the day of victory. “The 21st Fighter Group Officers’ tent areas were hit by desperate ‘Banzai’ attacks of 250 or more Japanese soldiers. They slashed open the tents with swords and killed 54 pilots and airmen in their sleep. Several had their throats slit. Immediately, G.I.s of many other nearby units got involved in the fight. Finally the Marines closed in on the Japanese from behind with flame throwers, Tommy guns and grenades. Very few were captured.”

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Scene of Bonzai attack on sleeping pilots
Photo Courtesy Mark Stevens
National Archives via 7th
Fighter Command Association

The elderly Marine said, “There were about 22,000 Japanese soldiers entrenched in bunkers, pillboxes, spiders holes and in many interconnected caves on the tiny 2.5 x 5.5 mile island. It was pure Hell. Most of them fought to the death or chose ritual suicide instead of surrendering. In fact less than 1,000 did surrender.”

Many people have the misconception that the battle was nearly won when the flag was raised on Mt. Suribachi. Nothing could be further from the truth. The men who raised the two U.S. flags on February, 23, 1945, did so on the fifth day of the battle.

One group obeyed the order of their battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson (CO, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines) to raise the first “Stars and Stripes” over Suribachi; his command to the second group was to recover the battalion’s flag and raise a larger flag from one of the ships. Joe Rosenthal’s spontaneous image captured the second flag-raising on film, and preserved it for history (Many of the scenes in the video are of actual Marine Corps combat footage and rarely seen photographs).

Of 110,000 U.S. military personnel who took part in the battle, 6,821 were killed (including 300 Navy Corpsmen) and 19,217 wounded. 27 U.S. military personnel were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions. Of the 27 medals awarded, 22 were presented to Marines and 5 were presented to Navy sailors; this is a full 30% of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in the entirety of World War II. The Island was secured after 36 days of ferocious combat…much of it hand to hand. As Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said, “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

After the Iwo Jima victory on March 26th, 1945, Myring went on to help with securing mainland Japan after their surrender, which involved the destruction of huge caches of firearms, heavy weapons and explosives. He also witnessed the utter devastation caused by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki that brought about the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

Myring still suffers the side effects from the radiation of the atomic bomb drop 65 years earlier. He knows the bombings saved hundreds of thousands of American lives, as the Japanese were willing to fight to the last man, woman, and child to save the Japanese empire. Thankfully, they wisely surrendered.

Myring is a retired Minneapolis, MN police detective who is currently living in Bend, Oregon.  (All proceeds from the DVD are being donated to the Constable Public Safety Memorial Foundation, Inc., which has decided to donate 10% of those proceeds to the Wounded Warriors Project)

by Robert Dent

Dent is a honorably retired from the Oregon State Police.  He founded the Constable Public Safety Memorial Foundation, Inc. in 1995.   90% of the proceeds from this DVD helps pay travel expenses of families of slain law enforcement officers to attend the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and C.O.P.S. Survivor’s grieving conference.  They are held in Washington D.C. in May of each year.

The remain proceeds are donated by the foundation to the Wounded Warriors Project to help buy airline tickets or air miles for needy families to fly to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to comfort their critically injured loved one hospitalized there.

With a $25 donation this video will be shipped free of charge. Click on “Donate” button for more information.  (This is 1 of a series of 5 biographical documentaries to be released).  Check back soon.

Soon to Be Released

“A Matter of Honor”

The biographical story on DVD of Oregon’s Medal of Honor recipient Robert D. Maxwell

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MOH_by_Major_Gen. Bend, Oregon

Robert Maxwell’s story is about Oregon’s only living Medal of Honor Recipient who served in the 3rd BTN, Headquarters Co.   7th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.  He fought in the invasion of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Southern France.  He also participated in the fighting at Anzio where he was wounded, Salerno, the Volturno River, Cassino, Montelimar, and in Bescason, France where he received our nation’s highest award for bravery and gallantry.

He is also the recipient of the French Legion of Honor, French Croix De Guerre, French Liberation Medal, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, WW II Victory Medal and others.

CITATION FOR MEDAL OF HONOR READS:

6 April 1945. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 7 September 1944, near Besancon, France. Technician 5th Grade Maxwell and 3 other soldiers, armed only with .45 caliber automatic pistols, defended the battalion observation post against an overwhelming onslaught by enemy infantrymen in approximately platoon strength, supported by 20mm. flak and machinegun fire, who had infiltrated through the battalion’s forward companies and were attacking the observation post with machinegun, machine pistol, and grenade fire at ranges as close as 10 yards.

Despite a hail of fire from automatic weapons and grenade launchers, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell aggressively fought off advancing enemy elements and, by his calmness, tenacity, and fortitude, inspired his fellows to continue the unequal struggle. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown in the midst of his squad, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell unhesitatingly hurled himself squarely upon it, using his blanket and his unprotected body to absorb the full force of the explosion. This act of instantaneous heroism permanently maimed Technician 5th Grade Maxwell, but saved the lives of his comrades in arms and facilitated maintenance of vital military communications during the temporary withdrawal of the battalion’s forward headquarters.

Mr. Maxwell lives in Bend, Oregon and is a Board member of Constable Public Safety Memorial Foundation, Inc.   The DVD documentary will be released in the near future and will be posted under the “PRESS RELEASE” button.  All proceeds from the DVD will be donated to charity as noted above.

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Tom Hanks and Robert Maxwell at the National WW II Memorial

“Dying for freedom isn’t the worst thing that could happen…being forgotten is.”

The below veteran’s stories have been filmed but due to time constraints, production dates have not been determined at this time.

 

“Memoirs of G.I. Tom Myers”

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Tom Meyers

Memoirs of G.I. Tom Myers CO. I, 4th BTN, 110th Reg, 28th Inf. Div. 1st Army. (Recipient of Bronze Star, P.O.W. Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and 3 battle stars)

Tom Myers’ story is of an Army soldier who fought and survived the bloody Battle of the Hürtgen Forest and went on to fight at the Battle of the Bulge. He was subsequently captured and imprisoned in two German POW camps of which he escaped.

He survived a 150 mile death march in January of 1945. His final escape was made with the help of the Czech underground, a mysterious German man with much to lose, and a young Russian soldier.

The documentary follows a book written about his WW II experiences, which led  to a town plaza in Weiler, Luxembourg being named in his honor.  An excellent  book was written by Marcel Scheidweiler of Weiler, Luxembourg titled Memoirs of G.I. Tom Myers accurately chronicles his wartime experiences.

Mr. Myers was the former Post Commander of the Central Oregon P.O.W. Association. He lived in Bend, Oregon and sadly passed on as so many of his WW II peers have.

In the First Wave at Omaha Beach

BOB_SHOTWELL_8X10In the First Wave at Omaha Beach – The story of Army amphibious combat engineer Robert Shotwell (CO C, 149th Amphibious Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Army. Unit Battle Award, European Campaign Medal, and 3 battle stars). “When the first wave landed at 6:30 a.m. we found naval gunfire and pre-landing bombardments had not softened German defenses or resistance. I will always remember the loss of my best friend as we stepped off the landing craft. I suddenly realized we were fragile humans and that a shell from a German 88 could take a man’s head off very easily…which it did,” Shotwell said.

Enemy positions that looked down from bluffs as high as 170 feet, and water and beach obstacles strewn across the narrow strip of beach, stopped the assault at the water’s edge for much of the morning of D-Day. Initial reports were so bad that Lt. General Omar Bradley, U.S. First Army Commander, considered pulling off the beach and landing troops elsewhere,” Shotwell said. However, pure bravery and determination won the day and the enemy was pushed back and the Americans had gained a bloody foothold on Fortress Europe. Shotwell fought on to the liberation of Paris and eventually into Germany when the War ended.  Mr. Shotwell currently lives in Lapine, Oregon).

“Into the Breach”

PHIL_IN_UNIFORM_IWO_001Phillip Bellefeuille served in HQ & Service, 3rd BTN, 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division.  He was assigned to the Fire Direction Center as a forward observer) for a 105mm Howitzer and survived the bloody fighting on the four Pacific Islands of Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.

He was the recipient of a Purple Heart and 4 battle stars.

Mr. Bellefeuille as so many of his peers passed on a number of years ago. He lived in Bend, Oregon and one of the original founders of the Bend Band of Brothers.

 

 

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