SURVIVING IWO JIMA "MEDAL OF HONOR" RECIPIENTS
The three surviving "Congressional Medal of Honor" recipients (of 22 Marines so decorated) from the U.S. Marines' bloody, 36-day assault on entrenched Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in World War II have joined nearly 300 other veterans of that costly, but victorious battle, in Fredericksburg, Texas, this weekend for their annual reunion.
The three, Jack Lucas (77), Herschel "Woody Williams (81), and Daniel Gerdano (79) , were among the 61,000 Marines who landed at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. When they and their fellow Marines were through (with 6,800 Marines dead and another 20,000 wounded), they had decimated the ranks of the hardened, dug-in Japanese forces they faced, killing around 18,900 of the approximately 20,000 enemy they went up against on that blisteringly dry, volcanic atoll.
We owe these men a debt of gratitude -- all who took that island and avenged the losses at Pearl Harbor. They faced withering machine gun and mortar fire, and harsh climatic conditions, but persevered and exemplified bravery above and beyond. Truly they are members of America's "Greatest Generation."
If you have not yet read Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, I encourage you to do so. It'll bring tears to your eyes and send chills up and down your spine. It's exceptional, as were the men who landed in the surf and began an epic battle that will never be forgotten by patriotic Americans for generations to come.