THE GREATEST GENERATION:
IWO JIMA SURVIVORS MEETING: One of these men, 96-year-old Cpl. Hershel “Woody” Williams, is the last surviving recipient of the Iwo Jima Medal of Honor awards. Iwo Jima is a two-mile by four-mile Pacific island. Due to the Japanese pillboxes with interlocking fields of fire, dug deep into the coral, the pre-invasion artillery barrage didn’t have much effect. 7,000 Marines died taking Iwo Jima. They sold their lives dearly: out of about 20,000 Japanese on Iwo, only about a thousand survived.
The story of Corporal Williams’ actions there is briefly told, and it is what you’d expect to hear about a Medal of Honor recipient. ” ‘They asked me, as being the only flamethrower and demolition expert left, would I do something about the pillboxes that had them stalled?’ he said.”Let that sink in for a minute. The battle is far from over. Your commanding officer says, “We need you to do this. You are the only one left of the flamethrowers and demolition experts.”
That might make your gut twist a little.
“Williams reckons that he used a total of six flamethrowers through the long and bloody afternoon, but much of what transpired ‘is just a blank. I have no memory,’ he said.” Granted, he’s 96 years old, but I imagine that if you burn people to death for about four hours, your mind would want to wipe out the memories. It is appropriate that he now lives in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. One hopes that his life there is calm and peaceful.
The other Iwo Jima survivor there that day was Cpl. Raymond Hart, now 98, who became a New York City police officer after the war and retired from the department as a deputy inspector. He knew the value of flamethrowers: ” ‘It was the flamethrowers got it done’ on Iwo Jima, Hart said.”
“Earlier, he had startled museum officials with the bag of war souvenirs he had brought with him … Hart began pulling items from the bag shortly after entering the museum. There was the case displaying his medals, including the Bronze Star, and then the helmet he wore through the island campaigns and the occupation of Japan.“
You should read the story of the holes in Corporal Hart’s helmet! “He was still wearing the dented helmet when he mustered out of the Marine Corps, he said. As all Marines know well, the Corps always wants its stuff back, no matter the condition, but they made an exception for Hart’s helmet.” It wasn’t just a dent.
Another Pearl Harbor survivor passes into history: Emery Arsenault. “After the war, Arsenault got married, worked at Logan Airport in maintenance and baggage, and raised his family in Lynn. He returned to Honolulu several times to be honored with other veterans on Pearl Harbor Day through the Greatest Generation Foundation. Arsenault was the husband of the late Lauretta Doucette Arsenault, who died in 2002. He leaves three daughters and their husbands, as well as seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.” Mr. Arsenault left his family a heritage to be treasured, and he gave America many more citizens to carry on in his place. Thank you for your service, Sir, and may God give you peace.
GREATEST GENERATION, SECOND ITERATION:
THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE:
Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker “The U.S. Army has announced it will upgrade a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier’s Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during the unit’s ‘Thunder Run’ attack on Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003 … Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, who was killed protecting his platoon’s flank, will receive the nation’s second-highest award for valor in a ceremony in Pittsburgh on April 5  … Booker … communicated the situation to his chain-of-command, returned fire with his mounted machine gun and reassured his crew that they would make it to their objective … When his machine gun malfunctioned, Booker completely disregarded his personal safety and took up an exposed prone position on the top of his tank … Under heavy enemy fire, Booker managed to destroy an enemy vehicle and effectively protected his platoon’s flank … Booker continued to engage the enemy and protect his platoon while exposed for nearly five miles until he was fatally wounded …”
Also from that link: two more upgrades from Silver Stars to Distinguished Service Crosses , and they are well deserved:
Sergeant. Daniel E. Cowart “The Army also recently announced that it will upgrade Sgt. Daniel E. Cowart’s Silver Star to a DSC in a March 20 ceremony for the heroism he showed during a combat patrol in Iraq in 2007 … Cowart, a former member of the 1st Cavalry Division, is credited with wrestling a suicide bomber away from his three fellow soldiers before the bomb exploded. Cowart was severely wounded in the blast, but his actions saved the three soldiers’ lives.”
Major Thomas Gordon Bostick “will also receive the Distinguished Service Cross in March, an upgrade from the posthumous Silver Star he was awarded for ‘sacrificing his life’ to protect his 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers during an enemy ambush in Afghanistan.”
“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Army Master Sergeant Matthew Williams I think the Heartbeat covered this story at the time: Master Sergeant Matthew Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump on October 30th, 2019, for his “character, courage and calm as he helped lead four wounded comrades to safety while fighting off a determined and overwhelming enemy force.” There has been a new development: promotion to Sergeant Major.
Behind the scenes during the Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting: these warriors saved lives here even though they didn’t get into this firefight (they didn’t have weapons on them).
HURRAH! This incident was more difficult than just the headline might make you think: “Marine Gets Heroism Award for Saving Pregnant Woman from Fast-Moving Rip Current”
Coast Guard saves Canadian “icebreaker” lol: if you don’t want to swim in icy water, don’t walk on thin ice!
Warriors of all our history, thank you. What you endured and sacrificed for America staggers the imagination. God bless you and give you peace.
In case no one remembers it, there’s a reason I headed the section on our current military “Greatest Generation Second Iteration”. Many months ago, researching for another RED Friday article, I came across a quote from an officer who arranged for World War Two and Korean War veterans to watch our current troops in an urban warfare exercise. He said that every time the warriors of yesterday got to watch the soldiers of today in action, they were awed by what they saw. Soldiers, you have many times over earned the right to walk proud. Those who handed you the torch of Liberty salute you. And so do the rest of us.
Have a blessed and safe RED Friday all. MG, Snake and Bam. We miss you. Be safe wherever you are. ♥