Monthly Archives: February 2011
February 23, 2011 marks the 66th anniversary of the historic flag raising on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. Many American servicemen fought that battle and over 19,000 were casualties with 6,821 giving their lives during the 36 day battle.
Take the time to remember and thank a veteran or current service member for fighting to protect your freedoms.
February 19th marks the anniversary of one of the major events of WWII. That was the day, 66 years ago, that Marines landed on the shores of Iwo Jima Island in the Pacific. Gaining control of Iwo Jima from the Japanese was crucial strategically because the United States needed the island as a place for B-29 bomber planes to land and refuel on their way to and from Japan.
Although our military forces bombed the island extensively for weeks before Marines went ashore, they were unaware of how well the Japanese had fortified the island. The Japanese built miles of underground tunnels from which to plan surprise attacks on American servicemen. The bombing had done little to destroy those tunnels.
Iwo Jima is remembered as the bloodiest battle in Marine history. One third of all Marines killed in WWII, were killed on Iwo Jima. The total number of American who died there is 6,821. There were over 19,000 casualties and it was the only battle where the number of American casualties outnumbered those of the Japanese. The Battle of Iwo Jima is also recognized for one of the most iconic photos taken during WWII. The photo taken by Joe Rosenthal and captured the moments when five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raised the flag on Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the volcanic island. The flag raising took place on the 5th day of battle, February 23, 1945. After that, there was still a month of fighting left on the island where many more men lost their lives, including three of those who raised that flag.
Fifty years after the battle, the Iwo Jima Survivors Association, founded by Dr. George Gentile, unveiled the National Iwo Jima Memorial Monument. It was a tribute to those comrades who fought and died during that battle, including at least 100 men from Connecticut. They raised the funds to build the monument themselves and it proudly sits on the Newington/New Britain town line near Central Connecticut State University.
One of the unique features of the Monument is the 48-star United States flag which is flown on it. This is historically correct to the time period of the battle. The monument needs to be maintained by replacing the flag several times a year. This winter has been especially hard on the flag and changing it has been made all the more difficult because of all the snow we have had. There are snow mounds at least six feet high making accessibility to the flag just about impossible. Iwo Jima Survivor William Wood of Terryville says “The monument and flag mean a lot to him and all those who were there. The flag should be a good, clean, new flag to honor the men who fought and those that did not return.”
Because of the snow conditions, it seemed there would be no way to replace the torn and tattered flag in time for the anniversary of the battle on February 19th. Al’s Landscaping of Newington, who performed much of the park renovations this past summer, was called to see if there was anything that could be done to get a new flag placed on the Monument in time to remember those who fought and died during the battle. Al Manocchio and his crew brought over a bobcat to remove snow and a lift to reach the top of the flagpole. A 48-star flag, which had been donated by the family of a Survivor was used to replace the worn one. I can honestly say that as I watched the old flag come down and being replaced by the new one, I felt some of the pride that must have been felt by those young servicemen who witnessed the flag being raised on Iwo Jima. When asked about the job of changing the flag, Al replied, “It was an honor and pleasure to replace the flag in memory of the men who lost their lives on Iwo Jima”. Al’s Landscaping was kind enough to donate their time in order to replace the flag.
In remembrance of the 66th anniversary of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Foundation member Mark Adamski and other members will be on hand at the Memorial Park on February 23rd between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mark, who is a WWII historian and reenactor will be dressed in the uniform worn by Marines during the invasion. He will have memorabilia, photos and mementos from the battle on display and will be available for questions. There will be brief ceremony to place a wreath at the monument to honor those who fought and died during the battle. Everyone is welcome. Please stop by the National Iwo Jima Memorial Park located at the intersection of Barbour Rd. and Ella Grasso Boulevard or exit 29 off Route 9.
If you would like to make a donation for flag maintenance or if you have any questions, you may call Gary at 860-291-9666.
Some of you may not know that there were African-Americans fighting on Iwo Jima. In honor of these veterans of Iwo Jima, I am presenting some links that may be helpful for students studying this topic.
The American Legion Magazine
My War on Two Fronts
Battles with the Japanese – and Jim Crow – shaped this black Seabee’s life.
Here are more good website to reference:
In November, a few of our Iwo Jima Survivors flew to Washington D. C. to see the World War II Memorial. Among the 98 Veterans taking the American Warrior’s Honor Flight were Harry Rosenfeld of West Hartford and Joe Caminiti of Bristol. A news story about the trip was seen on WFSB Channel 3 Eyewitness News of Hartford, CT. Here is a link to the story and video in which our Survivors were interviewed.