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Iwo Jima veterans recall fight

 
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By David Hendee
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

ASHLAND, Neb. Iwo Jima would be famous in American history even if
it had not produced the iconic photograph of World War II the raising
of the U.S. flag by five Marines and a Navy corpsman.
But that image would not have happened if Navy Secretary James
Forrestal hadn’t come ashore and asked for the first flag raised by
the Marines as a souvenir, said Dave Severance, a retired Marine
colonel from LaJolla, Calif.
Severance mused Saturday that Forrestal’s request triggered a
series of events that led to the Marines replacing the original flag
in a scene captured by Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press
photographer.
The image anchored Iwo Jima, one of the war’s bloodiest battles,
into American military lore, won a Pulitzer Prize for Rosenthal and
inspired the design of a Marine Corps memorial and museum outside
Washington, D.C.[url=“http://omaha.adbureau.net/accipiter/adclick/CID=00006ddc0ed4f3c000000000/SITE=omaha/AREA=owhmetro.main/AAMSZ=300X250/position=1/acc_random=673516/pageid=413976”]
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Severance was one of six veterans saluted at the Strategic Air &
Space Museum near Ashland for serving side by side with the Marines
who raised the flags. The event marked the 65th anniversary of the
end of the battle.
About 450 people turned out, including local Iwo Jima veterans.
The irony of the gathering was that only a few of the Marines in
Severance’s company saw either of the U.S. flags flying atop Mount
Suribachi the day their comrades raised them.
Severance, Ralph Griffiths of Girard, Ohio, Robert Galloway of
Gadsden, Ala., and Melvin Duncan of San Angelo, Texas, were at the
base of the extinct volcano and couldn’t see the summit.
John Scheperle of Mission, Texas, and William Wayne of Yorba
Linda, Calif., were on hospital ships off the coast. Wayne later went
to the deck and saw the flag. Scheperle wasn’t aware of the event.
Griffiths said he never saw the flag. He was wounded and
temporarily blinded in later fighting that killed two of the flag
raisers.
Galloway said when he and others eventually got far enough away
from the volcano to see the summit and the flag, there was “shouting,
crying, saluting and praying all at the same time. It was
beautiful.’‘
The veterans’ affection for Severance, their company captain at
Iwo Jima, was obvious in their jokes and tears.
“On account of him, we’re here today. I’m honored to be here and
put my arm around him,’’ Griffiths said, eyes welling and voice
choking. “He brought us back.’‘
Fighting was so intense that commanders sometimes didn’t know the
names of replacement Marines rushed to the front lines only to be
wounded or killed within a day or two, Severance said.
Duncan said Iwo Jima is synonymous with sand and fighting to the
death.
“Wherever you stepped, you were up to your ankles in sand,’’ he
said. “You just moved from shell hole to shell hole and it was
‘kill ‘em, kill ‘em.’”
Severance’s unit, Company E, started the battle with 309 men. It
ended with 44 men divided into two platoons: one led by a corporal,
the other by a private first class.
Severance said he lost 20 Navy corpsmen, who treated wounded
Marines, on Iwo Jima.
“The last time I sent back to get corpsmen, they sent two
ambulance drivers from the medical battalion who had first aid
training,’’ he said.
The Marines said they found courage in different ways.
Wayne said it was a desire to not let his buddies down.
Severance said he simply recalls 36 days of weariness.
“I remember dirt, fatigue and death,’’ he said.
Galloway was newly married when he shipped out. The desire to
return to his wife pulled him through the battle.
“I dug the foxhole a little deeper. I tried to shoot a little
straighter,’’ he said. “I had to figure out a way to get home. And
I made it.’‘
Contact the writer:
444-1127, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Total Posts: 1353

 <h1>WWII vet recalls Battle of Iwo Jima</h1>
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War II veteran Fred Doty looks through an old scrapbook with photos and
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By Andrew Amelinckx Hudson-Catskill Newspapers

  <div class=“timestamp” style=“margin: 0px 0px 15px;”>Published:  <div class=“timestamp”>Saturday, August 28, 2010 2:13 AM EDT</div></div>
     
     
     
     
     
 
  <span>CLAVERACK - It was 1945 and Fred Doty was
on a transport leaving Iwo Jima. Looking back at the 21-square mile
volcanic island, he could see the seemingly endless rows of graves of
his fellow Marines on shore, and he wept.

During his time on Iwo Jima he helped bury the dead.

“It
was pretty rough,” he recalled recently, his emotions rising to the
surface. “They had crewcuts just like me. It could have been me.”

He had survived one of the toughest battles of  World War II and now he was going home.</span>


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  <span>“I’m alive,” he thought. “I’m coming home.”

He had been
on the island for months, beginning in February 1945 when his ship, the
USS LST 84, a tank landing craft, was among the nearly 900 vessels in
the largest armada invasion of the Pacific War up to that time.

Doty had volunteered to stay on the bridge to watch for enemy aircraft as the armada made its way to the target.

“I knew my aircraft,” he said. 

He
slept on the bridge in all kinds of weather and kept a look out for the
Kamikaze (Japanese suicide pilots who crashed their planes into U.S.
ships).

“The worst was the suicide pilots,” he said. “They were very scary.”</span>


 
  <span>Thirty miles from Iwo Jima, his ship came under fire. He
alerted the crew and began feeding ammunition to both the gunners
helming the 40 millimeter weapons and the gunner at the 50-caliber
machine gun.

“We got credited with shooting down three or four (suicide pilots),” he said. “I got a Bronze Star for it.”

Doty
said they were lucky. At one point the ship had been the last in the
convoy, but traded spots with another ship, the USS LST 477.

On Feb. 21, 1945 a Kamikaze pilot managed to slam into the side of LST 477, dropping a bomb on deck just before doing so.

“It got hit broadside,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here today…Someone was looking out for me.”

A
few days later Doty disembarked onto the beach, just before the famed
raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi by Marines and a Navy
corpsman.

He recalled the incessant shelling of the beaches by the Japanese.

The
Japanese were extremely well dug in at Iwo Jima, with a honeycomb-like
defensive position with 16 miles of tunnels connecting 1,500 separate
rooms dug out of the rock.

The island was considered home soil by
the Japanese, while the Americans thought it vitally important as a
strategic position due to its location.

Long range B-29 bombers
were executing bombing raids on Japanese cities, but the U.S. had no
fighter escort planes with the range necessary for the long flights. Iwo
Jima, which had three airfields, was perfect for a fighter escort
station.

“That’s why we were there,” he said. “For the airfield.”

Doty was a corporal attached to the 5th Amphibious Corps of the Fleet Assault Marine Force.

“It was a lot of hell,” he said of the battle that raged for more than a month, from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945.

He said there were always two soldiers to a foxhole.

“One
slept while the other kept look out,” he said. “The Japanese would
sneak up on you in the middle of the night, cut your throat and take
your canteen.”

While Doty liked combat-“I was young and crazy,” 
he remarked-often going out with a buddy to shoot Japanese snipers with
their .45s when troops were “mopping up,” he also found his time there
to be frightening.

“It was bad,” he said, remembering the night an ammo dump was blown up by enemy fire.

“I was just a few yards away,” he said. “That was an awful night.”

Clouds of white sulfur blanketed the area, he said, requiring the use of gas masks.

Doty was still on Iwo Jima on Victory over Japan Day, Aug. 15, 1945, when the end of the war was announced.

“We
were getting ready to go to Japan,” he said. “I guess they figured if
(the Fifth Amphibious) could take Iwo Jima, we could take anything.”

The
planned invasion of Japan, code-named Operation Downfall, never
materialized, due in part to the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on
Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of another over
Nagasaki on Aug. 9.

Doty had heard rumors of a new weapon.

“There
were a lot of Air Force men flying in and out of Iwo Jima,” he said, 
and they told him about “something special. A special bomb.”

With
the war over, Doty was returning to Columbia County, where he was born
and raised, but while the fighting had ended he continued to suffer the
effects of his experiences.

Back home in Columbiaville he took a
boat out to the Hudson River, but when a seagull swooped down close to
him he began to suffer flashbacks from the war.

“That’s when it all started,” he said.

“He
hated to go to sleep,” recalled his wife of nearly 64 years, Shirley.
“We’d be getting ready to go to bed and he’d just be starting a project
around the house.”

Doty wasn’t alone. He said several of his friends also suffered from their experiences.

For him, joining the Civil Air Patrol after the war and working with young people helped him.

“It eased my mind,” he said.

Even with his harrowing war time experiences, Doty said he would do it all again.

“I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud to have served,” he said. “This is the greatest country in the world.”

To reach reporter Andrew Amelinckx call 518-828-1616, ext. 2267 or e-mail aamelinckx@registerstar.com
</span>

 
 
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