Saturday, February 23, 2008

Among Heroes - Iwo Jima Veterans

Yesterday, I met so many wonderful people. While I am EXHAUSTED, I know I need to write about who I met, before I forget what names go with what photos/stories. My one regret, I was unable to photograph everyone I wanted to photograph and I didn't have everyone sign my copy of Eric Hammel's book "Iwo Jima" that I wanted to.

So, let me get down to business and introduce you to men who made history...

First, General Fred Haynes who was a Captain on Iwo Jima, his regiment (28th) is the group that seized Mt. Suribachi. Next to him is Albert Abbartolino (I'm not sure if I have his last name down correctly) he was a demolitions guy in Haynes' regiment. Here they are in front of a captured Japanese flag the 5th Division, 28th Marines captured. The men of the 28th all signed the flag. Al spent some time there while his daughter read the names to him.

Above is Garland Simmons, I met him the first night that I was at the symposium. He was a radio operator.

This fellow with the big friendly smile is Frank Caldwell. When he signed my book, he signed it " Frank Caldwell, Col USMC (ret) CO Fox Company, 26th Marines" As he was signing the "CO" part, he asked if I knew what that meant. I said, "Commanding Officer." He replied, "Good, good, that 's right." Mr. Caldwell was awarded the Navy Cross for action on Iwo Jima, this is the second highest medal a Marine can earn.

This is Jim Blackabee. He was with the 5th Division, 13th Marines on Iwo Jima.

This is Norman Baker, I also met him the first night. He is pointing out where he landed to Dave, one of the docents at the Museum. Mr. Baker was a SeaBee. They are the ones who built roads and got rid of barriers so Marines could move around the island.

This is Gene Daughtry, he is one of the Montford Point Marines. African Americans served in the Continental Marines, but did not serve in the Marine Corps again until World War 2. The military branches were segregated, so the African American Marines trained at Montford Point. By the Korean War, troops were integrated.

This gentleman leafing through my book is Joseph DeLucien. According to his wife, he had just gotten out of the hospital 4 days prior. He had been suffering from pneumonia. Whew, guess wild horses aren't going to keep these guys away from their reunion!

This Pepsi fan is Leonard Colbert also with the 28th Marines. He came with his grandchildren. One grandson, was a SGT in the Marine Corps. Another grandson was a SGT in the Army. His grandson in the Army had so many ribbons on his uniform that all the veterans wanted to know what he had done. Yes, both of his grandsons had served in the middle east. His grandson in the Army is currently working with the Joint IED Defeat Organization. He also had several granddaughters there. He was very proud of them and you could tell that they were very proud of him.

Above is Robert Wolfe. He was with the 3rd Division, 12th Marines.

It has certainly been a jam packed weekend. I have learned SO much and met some amazing people. I will share more with you as I get a chance to write it down.


Brian Schoolcraft said...

I had just come across your post in Nov 2008 about Iwo Jima Veterans. When searching the net, I was looking for information about Garland "Mutt" Simmons. I had met "Mutt" several times during family reunions in WV as he part of the Nugen family just as I am. Mutt died in November 2010. It was just very interesting to see his picture in your post. I had 2 uncles who served during the same time period. Harry Nugen who was killed in Belgium and Leonard Nugen who was in the South Pacific with the Navy. Leonard lives in Alaska and I know he and Mutt were good friends.

chambers said...

I was going through my Pinterest boards and saw that I pinned this pic of Mutt a while back. He was a good man. Mutt was a friend of my granddad and my great uncle for many years. He showed me the sword hanging in his living room that he smuggled back home from Iwo. He walked onto the ship with it stuck down the side of his pants leg.