"What kind of a people do they (Japan) think we are? Is it possible they do not realise that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?"
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This story is dedicated to the millions who layed down their lives to bring an end to injustice in the world. If only we could be as brave and strong as you today.
Thank you so much veterens of World War II, you saved the world.
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Please comment, I love reading responses to my writing.
Robert woke with a start, sweat covering his body. He felt queasy and sick. He had been dreaming of his home, his family, and his friends. He wish he was there now, instead of being on board this stupid aircraft carrier, seasick. He sat up in his small iron cot and rubbed his fatigued eyes. His good dreams were always interrupted by the oceans relentless tossing of his stomach. He hated being on a boat almost as much as being in the Marines. He wanted this war to end, he wanted to go home.
Robert glanced at his watch, it was 6:50 AM, about an ten minutes before wake up call. He rubbed his eyes again. Truth be told, he was scared, very scared. Today was the 19th, D-Day . . . disembarkment day. Today they would be landing on the small island of Iwo Jima. Today . . . hundreds would die.
Robert stood up in the narrow hallway between the hanging metal bunks and took out his shirt. He might as well get ready now, he thought. His hands shook as he slipped on his army fatigue shirt. Others in the sleeping quarters were up as well, getting dressed or fiddling with their gear. An air of fear, nervousness, and worry was in the small cabin. No one new what to expect when they landed. The island had been bombarded for days, but not one US soldier had set foot one the island. No one knew what was there to meet the marine invasion.
Robert slipped on his boots and put on his jacket, pockets full of ammo. His hands were shaking as he grabbed his helmet. He held the object in his lap and stared at it, mind racing. He would be in the first landing party, on the front lines. He would be among the first to be blasted with the wrath of the imperial army. Rob shifted in his bed uncomfortably. He was more than scared, he decided, he was utterly terrified. He remained seated on his bed, helmet on lap, thinking of the attack to come. A bell rang, breaking Robs train of thought.
Men still asleep around him began to stir and wake up. Rob sprang to his feet and put on his helmet. He began walking down the small corridor towards the briefing and supply room. A few others who had awoke early followed suit and started down the hall behind him. The others who were still asleep groggily sat up and began to get dressed. Rob came to the end of the corridor and looked back at the bunk cabin. This might be the last time he saw this boat . . his only way home. He frowned and turned away. He had no choice, he must do as he was told.
Rob stepped through the metal door way in front of him and started up a long stair well. His boots clanged against the metal steps, echoing through the long metal corridor. Behind him several others followed, no one spoke. They all thought of the invasion to come, and their own fate on the volcanic island. They did not want to talk. Rob came to the top of the stairs and opened a small door into another long hallway. This one was larger with pipes and doors along the walls on either side. Several others were walking in the hall, disappearing in and out of halls and doors. He sighed
Rob had been to the briefing room so many times, he had memorized his way through the maze of halls. He stepped through the small door way and walked towards a door about halfway down the hall. He knocked hard and the door clanged open. A man in a tan uniform stood in front of him. He nodded at Rob and smiled.
"Your the first from the 5th division, Griffiths," he said, "Good work." He stepped out of the way and let Rob pass through. Several other followed, and the sergeant welcomed them. He peaked his head out the door, and when he saw no one else coming, he closed it. Rob turned and sat in one of the many chairs crowded in the small room. He had been briefed on the mission time and time again. He was just here to get supplied. The Sergeant came to the front of the room and shuffled a pile of papers on a podium up front. Only several minute passed until more men began to enter the room. Soon the room was full.
The sergeant held up a piece of paper and scanned the room with his eyes.
"Roll call," he announced.
The man looked at the paper in his hands and began reading the soldiers names. Rob stayed seated, not looking or speaking to anyone near him. He had made it a point to make no friends, or even be sociable while he was in the military. He knew they would all die, he didn't want to get attached to those he knew would be destroyed. The sergeant read his name.
"Here," he answered back grimly. Rob was known as the grim and unhappy one while at the Marine base in California. He liked it that way, because it was true. He was unhappy.
The role call ended and the man put the list of names in a folder on the podium. He looked back up at the men again and sighed.
"Soldier . . . Marines . . . I wont sugar coat this. You are about to be placed in the middle of a living hell. Friends you will have gotten to know will die in your hands, mutilated by bullets and mortar fire. You will cry . . . you will feel the pain of war . . . but remember this, You are fighting for the freedom of the world. You are stopping the beast that has attacked and devoured peaceful nations. You are the men that will slay the beast and end their evil conquering."
Rob chucked softly to himself. He had heard that speech before, when he was drafted. It wasn't as glories as he made it sound. It was just men slaughtering other men. Brutal and disgusting, with no honor or pride involved.
"Alright men . . . load up." the sergeant yelled. All the seated soldiers rose to their feet and started towards the end of the room. Rob stood up and followed the crowed
All the men in the briefing room began funneling into a small door behind the talking podium. Rob ducked through the small door way and stepped out onto the deck of the USS DARKE. Small Landing Crafts, Higgins Boats, ringed the deck of the large transport ship. Soldiers crowded the deck arming themselves with rifles and other assorted weaponry. Rob sighed and moved forwards. The ocean was full of large battle and transport ships. Far off in the horizon stood a small lump of island. Smoke drifted from the dark land.
Rob came to a stop in front of a long table. A short man with a thin mustache stood across form him. He held a clip board and pencil.
"Name, division, and rank ," he said methodologically.
"Robert Griffiths, 5th Marine Division, Private First Class." Rob answered automatically
The short man smiled sourly as he finished. He checked the name off his clipboard and signaled down the long table.
"Welcome to war, Private."
Rob started down the table and picked up a small pack full of extra equipment and supply's. A man stood near by handing soldiers their rifles. Rob stepped down and accepted his M1 Carbine from him, nodding. He then started towards the Higgins boats, ready and suited up for an invasion. He came to a stop in front of his squads assigned landing craft.
His team consisted of 12 men, including himself, and their sergeant. They were all the men who had bunked and been briefed with him this morning. The sergeant who had taken roll this morning was not there though, along with most the men. Rob went forward and leaned against the ships railing, staring out into the west. Far away, over the horizon, laid his home and his family. He remembered leaving them like it was yesterday. The image of his little brother and his mother and father waving at him as he walked down the driveway burned in his mind. He could smell the aromas of his child hood leaving him as he stared out onto the blue ocean. He saw a tear going down his brothers cheek as he saluted his big brother off to war. Rob covered his face with his hands, sadness gripping him like an iron fist.
He slumped against the railing for what seemed an eternity. Then a bell sounded, and Robs head shot up. The sergeant stood behind him, motioning for the squad to assemble around him. Rob stood up and hurried over to the small cluster of soldiers. The bell sounded again and the sergeant looked at his men with his deep green eyes.
"Men, when we land it is our duty to cut off Mount Suribachi," He pointed to the east, towards the burring island. At the end stood a small rocky hill. "The Snakes Head . . . It must be conquered," he continued, "Once it falls . . . the island will fall with it."
He turned back towards the men in his squad, a scowl on his face.
"Now . . . on the boat, immediately."
As if on cue, the Higgins began lowering into the water. They splashed down hard, spraying water up onto the side of the boats. The men of Robs squad began stepping over the sides of the USS DARKE and climbing down long rope ladders toward the transport ship. Rob began to step over when a hand grabbed his shoulder. He looked back and saw the sergeant, a look of concern on his face.
"I know you don't want to be here Rob," he said, "but do it for your country."
Rob looked at the sergeant long and hard.
"I've heard that a millions times before, Sergeant Grace . . ." He said sternly " and I am still not convinced."
Rob turned away and started down the ladder, not waiting for a response.
The salty spray from the sea churned beneath the Higgins boat as it pushed through the unforgiving pacific waves. It was 8:59, a minute ahead of schedule, when the landing vehicles were given the green light. They had broken out of formation and started towards the island. They were headed for Iwo Jima
The men inside the boats were sick with fear and the tossing of the sea. Many were praying under their breaths, reading small copies of the bible. Rob stood at the front of the transports and stared at the island in the distance. Smoke floated off the burned out and ravaged landscape, Mount Suribachi dominating the sky. It looked like the entire place had been lit on fire then put out. It was grey and dead, the color of war.
Water lept over the sides of the Higgins and hit the men with a small sprays of salty ocean. Rob stood still, fighting seasickness. He had heard stories of the Normandy invasion. He had heard of the bloody torrents of bullets that slammed into the men as their boats hit the beaches. The hundreds who had died on the rocky shores of France. Rob wished he was not in the front of the Higgins. He was scared, and he feared his day of reckoning was upon him.
The man driving the landing craft screamed over the roaring ocean.
"We're approaching the beaches," he yelled
The soldiers jumped to their feet and looked around nervously. Some hurriedly stuffed bibles into their jackets and prayed one last time. Sgt.Grace pushed to the front of the boat and surveyed the beach. He turned towards his men and yelled
"Remember . . . sever the Snakes Head."
The boats slammed against the sandy beaches and stopped. Rob turned and held his rifle, ready to run to cover. The front hatch of the transport swung down, opening the boats to the grey beaches of Iwo Jims. Rob lurched forward, followed by the rest of his squad. He ran to a small wall of sand and ducked underneath, ready for the bullets to slam the ground behind him.
Nothing came. No guns sounded, no men yelled, nothing happened. More boats hit the beaches and men pored out, running to the ten foot wall of dirt and sand running along the beach. But still . . . nothing happened. Every one was quite, only the sound of boats offloading and men running along the beach could be heard. Some one yelled off into the distance
"Maybe all the Japs are dead."
A few chuckles sounded through the army of marines piling on the beach. The air remained tense though, everyone nervous and worried. Men lined the top of the mound of sand on the beach looking off across the island.
Rob lay at the top of the mound and surveyed the land. It was flat and smokey, smoldering vegetation the only sign of any life on the island. No enemy soldier was in sight, every thing was silent. Maybe all the Japanese were dead, he thought. He looked to his sides, watching as more soldiers climbed the sand drift. Every one looked around in confusion.
Sgt.Grace lay down next to Rob and scanned the horizon. His face was stern and calculating, trying to think of every possible reason as to why the island was empty. Rob studied his face, but could not decipher Graces thoughts. A loud humming sounded behind Rob and he turned his attention away from the sergeant.
A large tank was being offloaded onto the island, followed by boxes of supplies and ammunition. Almost the entire invasion force and their supplies were on the beaches, yet there was nothing to stop them. Nothing resisted the army. Sgt. Grace looked back at his squad and frowned.
"Beta squad, move out," he yelled. Rob looked back at the sergeant in surprise.
"Lets go see if any Japs are left," he continued grimly. Grace climbed to the top of the embankment and signaled for his men to follow. Rob crawled after his commander reluctantly, followed by the rest of the squad. Others along the sand drift followed suit and scrambled up after their sergeants. Soon, several squads were walking inland through the volcanic ash covering the dead ground.
They advanced slowly and cautiously, eyes darting back and forth nervously. Rob held his gun in front of him ready to fire. Every one felt jumpy and scared, yet nothing happened. Sgt. Grace led the small band of troops, his head constantly moving along the horizon.
Grace turned towards one of the other sergeants and sighed.
"Signal HQ . . . no hostiles in sight." he said.
The other man nodded and started back towards the beach. Rob turned and watched him slid down the embankment. The entire invasion force was beginning to follow their squad onto the island, men climbing the sand bank. Rob turned back and faced Sgt Grace.
"What now," he asked in an annoyed voice.
Grace ignored the question, his eyes clouded and confused. He turned slowly and glanced back towards the other side of the island. Rob stepped forward and glanced at Graces face. His brow was scrunched in thought, eyes full of confusion.
"Sergeant . . .what is it," Rob asked, feeling very concerned.
The Sgt. turned towards Rob and frowned, "I don't . . . know."
Something went clunk then click. Rob spun around.
A machine gun burst into life.
Bullets flew through the air from all directions, slamming into Robs squad. Sgt Grace lifted his gun to fire, but was sprayed with a torrent of lead. He collapsed on the ground dead, chest and stomach torn up by the onslaught. Rob fell to the ground and covered his head with his arms. Bullets flew through the air and hit men left and right. Men screamed by the beaches as hidden Japanese bunkers lite up with gun fire.
The Marines immediately came to life and began returning fire. Explosions sounded through the air and more and more guns began unleashing their murderous rounds. Rob began crawling slowly back towards the beach, bodies of those in his squad lay on the ground around him. Marines yelled in the distance as they found the hidden bunkers and attempted to flush out the enemy. All hell had broken loose. The battle had begun.