WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS, WOWK) – Today marks the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Battle for Iwo Jima. The 36-day World War Two fight was one of the bloodiest in U.S. military history. In Washington, veterans and the loved ones of those who served honored the occasion.
“My father was one of those young men who hit that beach, so for me, it’s a real personal experience,” said Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen. Milley honored the past and spoke of lessons learned at a ceremony to mark the 75-year anniversary of the battle for Iwo Jima at the World War II Memorial.
“Let us resolve that we’re not ever going to have a great power war because the slaughter that it involves is beyond the imagination,” said Milley.
Afterwards, Milley, flanked by World War II veterans, laid a wreath.
“There are not many of us left apparently,” said Ira Rigger, an Iwo Jima veteran.
97-year-old Rigger, the only Iwo Jima veteran there, served in the Naval Construction Battalion called “The Seabees.”
“The fact that I didn’t get shot when people were aiming at me, makes me feel very fortunate,” Rigger said.
The bloody 36-day battle for the tiny Japanese island was a strategic victory for US forces as a launching point for future attacks in the Pacific. Five days into the fight, Marines raised a flag atop a captured mountain. It became a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.
“That iconic image is now enshrined here at this Marine Corps memorial just outside of Washington. Nearly 7,000 Marines died in The Battle for Iwo Jima,” said Skyler Henry, CBS News.
(SOT – Voice of Danny Shobe/Son of Iwo Jima Veteran)
“it’s a part of our family,” said Danny Shobe, the son of an Iwo Jima veteran.
Danny Shobe’s father, Marine Julian McBee Shobe, fought on Iwo Jima.
“My father ran into his brother on Iwo Jima. They said to each other on the field telephone, well hope to see you back home,” Shobe said.
The brothers returned and passed on the lessons of service to their family, and along with those who served with them, to the nation.
In addition to those killed, nearly 20,000 U.S. servicemembers were wounded during the Battle for Iwo Jima.
Among those brave men was West Virginia native Woody Williams. Williams demonstrated bravery above and beyond the call of duty, using a flamethrower to knock out Japanese positions with minimal support.
Williams was awarded the medal of honor for his actions on Iwo Jima. Williams is the only living Medal of Honor recipient from the Pacific Theater of World War II and spends much of his time supporting causes like Gold Star Families.
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