In February of 2004 myself and 15 of my fellow Marines were selected, from 2/6 Wpns Co. 81’s Plt. currently on deployment in Okinawa, to go on a six week training opp in the Philippines, we were joined by Fox Co. and all there to help the “new” helicopter pilots with live fire operations. All went well and we were sent back to Okinawa.
Being the only fully equipped Marine Co. with my Weapons Co. attachment close by we were asked to stop in at Iwo Jima and escort the Veterans around the island for the anniversary. That was the most powerful experience in my young life and will no doubt never be forgotten. I can’t explain the feeling of being on the troop transport slowly climbing wave after wave inching towards the island. It would be unimaginable to do that under fire, the ramp slowly dropped and one truck drove off…. dropped strait to the axels in “the sands of Iwo Jima.” Walking around the beach waiting to get the truck out I would sink up to my ankles in the sand… mind you I have no gear on, just cammies and a weapon. And to hear the stories of all the men who returned to the island that tried to take their lives… a very sobering experience, the details they remembered the colors and expressions on the faces of their opponents. every detail as if it were yesterday.
I was very lucky to get to meet so many heroes in one spot, there are fewer and fewer survivors able to make trips like that and I will never forget it. Today I have a small amount of the “Sand” in a bottle on my shelf, just to remind myself of the sacrifices made before me. Thank you one and all.
Michael A Weiss
Cpl USMC 2000-2004