Among The Men Who Fought On Iwo Jima, Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue

73 years ago today, the Battle of Iwo Jima started. As many of you know, being a Marine is one of the greatest sources of pride in my life. Being a Marine often defines me in many ways. It defines how people look at me too. With the title of Marine, you get an assumption of toughness and courage. That assumption comes from the fruits of burden the men on Iwo Jima carried on their backs in 1945.

Iwo Jima is the defining battle for the Marine Corps. Iwo Jima has defined the Marine Corps for the last 72+ years and will continue to define us for the next 500.

Over the course of my time in the Marine Corps, I met several Iwo Jima survivors. At that time, they were in their late 70s or early 80s. These men of then frail frame and stature once stood as tall as giants to the rest of the world. They became the symbol of American Greatness. They were the picture of all things that are right and good about soldierly virtue. They witnessed actions that were absolutely horrific. They witnessed mass suicides by the Korean slaves because the Japanese told the slaves that Americans were coming to rape them and burn them alive. Battalions of American Marines saw hundreds of slaves jumping off of cliffs into the sea to kill themselves. The Marines stormed beaches that had artillery, mortars, and gunmen ready to rip the beachhead and its occupants from limb to limb.

26,000 Marines or Navy Corpsman were killed or wounded on the black sands of Iwo Jima. They left behind a legacy that will never die. I am forever grateful for the men who knew that courage wasn’t the absence of fear but rather moving forward, to the sounds of the guns, in the face of fear. Semper fi.