before the last living memories are gone and the revisionists take over.
Today at breakfast, Pere mentioned that it was the 69th anniversary of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. When TOF was a kid, we asked him where he was in the famous photograph. I was in front, he said. I called out, "Put the flag here!" and then kept going while they snapped the picture. We were young and naive and believed him. But he also told us that he had been killed in the battle, and we believed that, too, and burst into tears at the tragedy. Later, we figured it out. Hey... Wait a minute...
The baby brothers -- you know who you are -- claim that they would not have been taken in like Dennis and TOF, but Pere could tell a very convincing story.
One sometimes reads that the iconic raising was "staged for the cameras" as a publicity stunt. But in fact, the second flag was raised because the commanding general wanted a flag that could be seen all over the island. At lunch one time, Pere recalled the moment when the flag went up. He was forward in the 5th Division zone and it was an electric moment -- followed an instant later by the horns of all the ships in the task force blaring at once.
|Pere went in on the Red beach IIRC with the 27th Marines. (He was 5th Engineers, attached to|
division but broken up among the various regiments.) At the time the flag was raised, he was
up around the airfields with his back to Suribachi.
|Japanese riflemen on the mountain|
could hit marines all over Iwo.
We asked him once when was the first time he felt old. He said it was on his 20th birthday, when he boarded a troopship to leave the island.
A while back Sèan told him there were now tour groups for veterans to return to the island. Sèan said he would pay for it. I'll have to think about it, said Pere. What's to think about? asked Sèan. It's a free trip.
The last time I got a free trip to Iwo Jima, Pere answered, people started shooting at me.