Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by lfkirby, Sep 18, 2009.
Incredible story. Thanks for sharing and serving for our country.
God bless you!!!
I have read this story several times, and I am totally encapsulated every time. Amazing writing, I am awstruck that anyone got off that island at all.
My thoughts exactly. Thank you
I did it again, I re-read this post, and again it was as if I was reading it for the first time. How did things go on the way to Guam? I wonder how you debriefed Iwo and prepared for the next? Was there a buddy left that you could talk to, or did you sort things out alone? If this is too personal, I understand.
Is this Marine still living? Does anybody know who he is?
Sterling G. Mace
Sadly he has not posted in over a year and a half...
I want to say thank you for your service and I do. It seems in war, no one really knows what they are getting themselves in to, especially the young men. For that I am not so grateful.
All I can do is read the accounts of our service members and carry them with me in my heart. And wish there was no war.
Thank you for sharing.
"I personally thought we should have withdrawn, established a blockade, and kept up the firing from sea and air."
THANK YOU SIR....
I was once shouted down by modern Marines on this site for suggesting this very thing, that Iwo Jima could well have been avoided altogether.
To hear it from someone who was THERE....makes it all worthwhile!
I read your compelling words from start to finish. It seems that the Marine corps had learnt nothing about the ineffectiveness of naval and air bombardments since Tarawa....Quick quote from a Marine from the gilberts battle...."I thought there was so much metal flying at that island that it would fall apart and sink!"
By the time of Iwo Jima, which was bombarded continuosly for 72 days before anyone with an American uniform went near the place, I'm told all this dazzling array of firepower and steel achieved was to "Rearrange the volcanic ash that covered the island surface.
Was Chich Jima really a tougher nut to crack, as I was so earnest told by apologists for this operation? Could we seriously have mined the waters surrounding Iwo instead and gone ashore at Chichi? There were certainly many LESS soldiers on Chichi Jima, and the defences, from the only map I've ever been able to dig up, don't look anywhere near as elaborate or well supplied with artillery, coastal or otherwise. But my detractors assured me Chichi Jima "would have been a much tougher nut to crack". I was unconvinced.
Do you agree? Or was Iwo Jima totally justified.....it certainly saved many aircrew, I believe the figure was almost one flyer for every casualty that fell. Also, my admiration knows no bounds for the Marines that went all the way from D-Day to the day the island was declared 'secure', 80 odd days wasn't it. Now thats gutsy....in fact one of this small group was shot in the gut, couldn't dtand up straight, and still wouldn't quit.
What balls.....oh what tough people they were.
And THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your service....for BEING THERE....and for coming home to tell the tale.
Dear Mr. Kirby, I have just come across this forum and thread. I know I am late to the party, but I pray that you are still with us and well.
My father was 2nd Lt David R Smith, in command of 1st Platoon, E Co, 2/9, and was one of the two E Co officers who led this attack into Cushman's Pocket. The other officer was his best friend in the Corps, 1st Lt George Todd, who had command of 2nd Platoon, E Co. They were both from Glendale California, and were both part of the same V-12 college draft and SOCS, and were together all the way through basic and advanced training, and both shipped out together for Iwo on the Bon Homme Richard transport ship.
There were 10 total survivors of the Pocket. 3 of them were from F Co, and including Lt Wylcie O'Bannon, who was later awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his actions on Okinawa. F Co assaulted by a different route than that taken by E, they fared just as badly as E Co did. O'Bannon and two of his men were rescued by tanks when they escaped down a draw, but tanks could not get to where the remnants of E Co were holed up, and my dad spoke directly with Lt Col Cushman by radio who said that they were on their own until the next dark, after which they were ordered to withdraw if they could, if they were still alive. My dad later told me that was the most forlorn voice he had ever heard on the other end of a radio.
Cushman's Pocket is not a very well understood piece of real estate by those who were not there. I got the impression from my dad and from others who were there that it is both more intimate and bigger than you'd think. It actually is at the top of an incline, where is located a shallow depression in the hilltop, surrounded by low ridgeline with multiple machine gun emplacements and mortar pits. A couple of bunkers dotted the floor of the depression. I actually have a copy of the hand drawn layout, which was provided to me by one of the 6 other survivors who came out of the pocket with my father..... a gentleman by the name of William F. Emerick, who ironically, had lived in the same town as my father for years, and neither was aware of the other's presence.
Both of the E Co platoons actually made it all the way up the hill into the pocket without firing a shot. First light is when all hell broke loose. I've reproduced below a letter written by my father to the organizing committee of his SOCS circa 1988. We lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in 1990, but his legacy of service lives on:
I have been in touch with other children and grandchildren of Cushman's Pocket survivors over the years, and I am currently still on the mailing list for the SOCS class newsletters. It is an amazing legacy, and all too obscure. Most Americans have never heard of the sacrifices made there...... and why would they? It was just one small action in a much larger battle, on a remote speck of an island, thousands of miles from home, and 7 decades past. But for the men who fought there and survived it, Cushman's Pocket was the defining moment of their lives. My dad always remained in his heart a proud marine, but he was so much more than that too. He was a professor of literature at Caltech for 35 years. He was a surfer and a sailor. He made surfboards for his friends and family. He captained our little sailboat on Channel Islands adventures. He was a poet, and a fine craftsman in beautiful woodwork. The above mentioned William Emerick to sent me that map.....he went on to be a prosperous attorney and retired to Hawaii. These men were extraordinary, NOT just because of what they did in war, but because they also beatified their lives.
I want to add that I think that the caliber of young men and women who serve today are no less than our warriors of the past. They have every bit as much to be proud of as any WW2 veteran, and our nation is truly blessed by the unbroken line of service our armed services have laid down for us over two centuries.
Welcome and best regards to you and the memories of your father.
Thank you for adding to this thread and shedding more light on one of the lesser known engagements of the war.
Do you have any photos or documents you would gracious enough to post? Most of the member here would enjoy seeing them?
Thank you for the welcome,
I have a scanned copy of the hand-drawn battlefield layout of Cushman's Pocket, sent to me by William Emerick. I also have the roster for my dad's SOCS class, which is remarkable in one thing..... The military always does things alphabetically, so men whose last names began with "A" or "B" were fed into combat units before those whose names began with "S" or "T". The result is that those who were alphabetically first were killed in greater numbers than those who were alphabetically last. Consequently, virtually every man on page 1 of the roster was either KIA or WIA. Several pages back, and halfway through the roster, they are about 50% WIA or KIA. Back where the "Smiths" begin, it is maybe 1/8 of the names who were either WIA or KIA, and so on. I'll try to find the attachment and upload it here.
I couldn't stop reading this post. If he author is still following the post, thank you so much for sharing this.
i would like to talk with this hero
I can confirm that Mr. Kirby is still alive, well,and thriving, and continues to be an ambassador for his fellow veterans and a cherished friend to all.
That is certainly good news. To know that he is well is important, although I wish he would post here again. I know many members, as well as I, would like to hear from him.