MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines and sailors with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron visited the historic shores of Iwo Jima July 24, 2013, for a period of military education on the role the island played in Marine Corps history and tradition. Iwo Jima was renamed Iwo To by the Japanese government in 2007.
A group of more than 60 Marines, sailors and Seabees landed on a Japanese Self Defense Force airfield, then quickly fell into two columns and hiked approximately three miles to the base of Mount Suribachi.
“I feel honored to be able to be there,” said Lance Cpl. Miguel Ramirez, H&HS administrative specialist and Iwo Jima trip participant. “The heat and charging up the sand on the beach, there is no comparison to what the Marines had to face in 1945. They had fire raining down on them the moment they stepped out of the landing boats.”
Though the sun beat down, and temperatures rose to more than 100 degrees, the group made it to the top of Mt. Suribachi where Lt. Col. F. Lance Lewis, H&HS commanding officer, spoke to the group about the significance of the spot they were all standing.
“This is the closest thing there is to sacred ground for the Marine Corps,” said Lewis. “Imagine, if you can, storming that beach with tremendous amounts of heavy machine gun and mortar fire raining down on you from almost every direction. On top of that, you have all your gear and weapons. It was not an easy task for us today; it was definitely a tremendous feat for Marines back then.”
Once the group finished observing the monuments on top of Suribachi, they made the hike down to the beach to take home a bit of sand from the island as a souvenir and memento; an opportunity that very few servicemembers are afforded.
“The Marines, sailors and Seabees here were chosen by their shops for proving that they had earned the right to come,” said Lewis. “I wish we could bring more out here as often as possible, sadly, we just don’t have that capability.”
Whether it is 1945, 2013 or the future, Iwo Jima will always hold a special and sacred place for Marines in their history and traditions.