Iwo Jima Stories


image of Iwo Jima Invasion Beach
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"...and the beaches ran red with blood..."

     ...describes the scene of the beginning of the American invasion of this Japanese held island, Iwo Jima, in the Bonin islands chain 600 miles to the south of Tokyo. Up until this time most marines had never heard of this tiny island shaped like a "porkchop" which measured about a mile at its widest point and seven miles at its longest point.

     They would soon find out a lot about this tiny hell hole in the Pacific. Over 6000 would never return home alive.

     A few years ago, a marine visitor went to the island after obtaining permission and was appalled as to the conditions of the monuments to the fallen Amerians...they were in deplorable condition and overgrown by island vegetation. What a terrible way to remember the sacrifices of so many Americans who shed their blood on this small island.

     The following is a New Section of World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words and begins simply enough with the story of this web master who spent a year on the island during his military service in the United States Air Force as a weather observer/radiosonde operator. He was stationed there in the latter half of 1965 and the first half of 1966.

     Many hours were spent "boondocking" -- traveling around the island on foot along with friends to check out the historic landmarks and to see if we could discover new and hidden treasures. We had to be very careful during those trips for some areas still contained unexploded ordinance.

     Following the battle for Iwo Jima, the highest praise possible was bestowed upon the men who endured -- with the simple but eloquent words:

image of Iwo Jima black sand


"Among the men who fought on Iwo island,
uncommon valor was a common virtue."


Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, March 1945



A sample of black Iwo Jima sand from the invasion beach designated as Green-1 which was the beach closest to Mt. Suribachi.





     Below is a the beginning of what is hoped to be a number of stories from servicemen who served on Iwo Jima -- also known as "Sulfur Island" -- or "the Black Pearl" to name but a few.

     This new section is a tribute to the servicemen who were stationed on Iwo Jima from February 1945 until 1968 when the island was officially returned to the Japanese government.

     This makes the servicemen who were there on the island members of a unique group of men who are fairly small in number, considering the length of time that the island was in American hands and the small number of servicemen who were stationed on the island.

     If you were a member of this unique group and would care to contribute your story, we will happily add it to our web pages.


     Joe Richard
     Det. 12, 20th Weather Squardon,
     U. S. Air Force 1962 - 1966



NEW Iwo Jima Aerial Images

Aerial Image of Iwo Jima dated mid year 1967.

Source of the photographs is the 6100 Support Wing History, Volume 1, Jan-Mar l968 assigned to the Fifth Air Force, Pacific AIr Forces, stationed at Tachikawa Air Base Japan.
Image courtesy of the Air Force Historical Research Agency


Overhead Aerial Image of Iwo Jima dated 1959.

Source of the photographs is the 6100 Support Wing History, Volume 1, Jan-Mar l968 assigned to the Fifth Air Force, Pacific AIr Forces, stationed at Tachikawa Air Base Japan.
Image courtesy of the Air Force Historical Research Agency


Interesting to note: While I was stationed on Iwo Jima (July 1965-1966), the island had changed dramatically since this overhead was image taken in 1959. The main air base was still there with it's single long runway and curved apron. However the second airstrip (just to left of the large base) and the third airstrip (barely seen as an outline between the main base and Mt. Suribachi in bottom of photo) were all but gone...obliterated by the ever encroaching vegetation.

image of NEWWe are searching for aerial (preferrably overhead) images of Iwo Jima taken in the 1960's. If anyone has any idea as to where we might be able to obtain some decent images taken during this time frame, we would appreciate you letting us know.



Iwo Jima Stories


Our Newest Story in this Series!

image of american flag

Gareth W. Rosson
Sgt., Ordinance 199th Depot & 3605th HAM Shop,
U. S. Army
Stationed on Iwo Jima

image of NEWStory Added on 6 March 2007

"...The room was HOT around 105 with a terrible smell. There were 5 or 6 Japanese soldiers, fully clothed, on the floor on the other end of the room. Their bodies were dried like leather. We didn't go down to the next level due to the stench and heat..."


image of american flag

Joseph Pellam
USS Midway, Antisubmarine,
Wyverns (HS-12)
Civilian Worker on Iwo Jima
Stationed in 1993

image of NEWStory Added on 21 February 2005

"...I went to the top of Suribachi and stood on the spot where the worlds most famous photograph was taken as well as hiking down into the crater and down the other side..."


image of american flag

Howard E. Fornof, GySgt.
USMC (Ret)
Foxtrot, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines
Fleet Marine Forces Pacific
March 1952-September 1972

image of NEWStory Added on 21 February 2005

"...I had the opportunity to I first visited Iwo in 1955 when our company F/2/3 was selected to be the aggressors force in a divisional exercise where the 3rd Marines from Camp Fuji Japan and the 9th Marines from Camp Sukiran Okinawa boarded ships..."


image of american flag

Fred Puente
USAF Air Traffic Control Squadron,
1964th AACS
Stationed on Iwo Jima
U. S. Air Force, April 1958 - April 1959

image of NEWStory Added on 19 October 2004

"...We could also draw 30 caliber ammo from the Air Police and do some "plinking" around the island at cans, sharks or whatever moved..."


William N. Tackitt, S/Sgt.
Stationed TDY on Iwo Jima
U. S. Air Force, 1950

image of NEWStory Added on 13 June 2004

"...We went into one that had opened up due to cave in below it that had a skeleton of a japanese officer there. He was still covered with some of his uniform..."



image of american flag

Harold Spear
A . Co., 802nd Heavy Construction Engineers Iwo Jima, December 1956 - May 1957
U. S. Army

Story Added on 2 January 2004

"...was in the mess tent eating breakfast when the ground started to shake and we heard a very loud explosion. We rushed outside to see large rocks and and steam blowing several feet in the air. The ground had opened up between the runway and Mt. Sarabachi ..."



image of Joe Richard

Joseph L. Richard
Det. 12, 20th Weather Sq.,
My Time on Iwo: July 1965 - July 1966

Story Added on 4 November 2002

The following is an exerpt from the story
About the year that I served on Iwo Jima.

"...After my arrival one of the first things to do was the 'island tour of new arrivals' which was conducted by a couple of the old hands (names escape me) and we all hopped into the back of the base pick up truck..."



Did YOU serve on Iwo Jima?

Did you know that there is a group of veterans who have gotten together to form an association of servicemen, no matter what branch of service, who served at one time or another starting at the invasion of the island on February 19, 1945 and continuing until the island was eventually returned to the Japanese in 1968?

Black Pearl Veterans



Do YOU have a story to tell?
Do YOU have a picture that tells a story?

Contact me, Joe Richard and I can help.

If You Would Like to E-mail us, Click on the Image Below:

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World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words
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Updated on 11 March 2006...1117:05 CST

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