I have been enjoying going through the Wayback Machine one more time, combing more thoroughly some of Lex’s posts from all those years ago. I believe that I have come to know him, both in his thoughts and character, as he was typing on that Mac, usually before the dinner bell, most probably with a Martini (vodka martini: Ketel One, up, dry, twist – which is three adjectives, for those of you keeping score at home.) I have even come to consider him as a friend, although I don’t know what he would have to say about it.
One of those posts I recently reposted was something I faced years ago – when that movie came out. Something that Lex acknowledged at the same time as my facing it.
Last year, I screened The Cold Blue, which was an amazing film. In WW2, 5 famous Hollywood directors, William Wyler, John Huston, John Ford, George Stevens, and Frank Capra went into harm’s way with small film crews and documented the war. John Ford, for example shot – I believe- the only footage of Midway as it was being attacked.
I’m in danger of swaying into this fascinating story, but I will say one thing. The war affected them all, and it can be reflected in their post war work. George Stevens, for example, having seen so much death and destruction in Europe, in making Shane, thought gunfire and being shot should be portrayed realistically, a first for a Hollywood Western.
On February 19, 1945, Operation Detachment commenced and the landings on Iwo Jima began.
Seventy-five years ago, U.S. Marines came ashore on a desolate eight-square-mile volcanic island dominated by Mount Suribachi and located roughly halfway between the Marianas and Tokyo. Iwo Jima’s value lay in its airfields. B-29 Superfortresses that were damaged or low on fuel could land there, and Army Air Forces fighters based on the island could escort the bombers to their targets in Japan. Three Marine divisions—more than 70,000 men—had the task of seizing the island. But an operation that U.S. commanders forecast would take a week to complete would stretch out to five weeks, and the Marines’ determination and sacrifice on Iwo Jima would become enduring touchstones for the Corps.
Before that time, the Marines didn’t know that the Japanese would be in a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, and caves, prepared over many months in anticipation of their landing. They could wait out the massive bombardments of the Navy ships. One tunnel was 90′ deep.
They had seriously underestimated the Japanese defenses. The battle would last 36 bloody days. For every square mile of that island, more than 800 Marines would lose their lives.
If you drive up I5 from San Diego in a half hour or so you’ll transit the massive USMC base of Camp Pendleton. If you are lucky, looking to the left towards the ocean, you may see some Osprey‘s landing or taking off.
The only Grand Prix that I have ever seen was in the summer of 1973, courtesy of the Army Special Services.
If you were off duty they sometimes arranged day trips of the local areas. The German Grand Prix was to be at a fabled course called the Nurburgring. This course, built in the 1920s, was the longest closed circuit course by far, at 14 miles or so. Fourteen miles of terrifying sharp turns, long straights, and in one area a jump through the Eifel forest.
Racing great Jackie Stewart called the course The Green Hell, and the term stuck.
The regiment has patrolled Sangin for nearly five months. Twenty-five Marines have died. More than 150 have been wounded; many of the wounded have lost limbs.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a battalion in the Marine Corps at any time — in World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam — that’s pulled a tougher mission than what 3/5 has right now,” Gen. Richard Mills, commander of U.S. and international forces in southwestern Afghanistan, told reporters in November.
Read the whole thing to learn how Rick Wimer, former Marine and father of a lance corporal stationed in Sangin is coping.
Two hundred Marine infantrymen of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who were transitioning to the civilian work force at the end of their enlistments faced a daunting choice when their unit was due for rotation back to Iraq, back to the crucible that was then Ramadi: Exercise their privilege to remain in stateside billets as short-timers and wave good-bye to their comrades as they departed for the fight, or else extend their enlistments and join them.
All 200 extended their enlistments and accompanied their comrades to Iraq for a seven month deployment. And yesterday, all 200 of them came home.
In seven months of patrolling the streets of Ramadi, once the most violent city in Anbar province, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment had no Marines or sailors killed and only one injured. In its previous deployment, the battalion’s numbers were 15 killed and more than 200 wounded.
No one is saying that the presence of the 200 Marines who had extended their tours was the crucial factor in the battalion’s returning with no fatalities. No one is saying it wasn’t.
“One-hundred percent accountability. Everybody came home alive,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Flores, 33, as he embraced his wife, Yadira. “One-hundred percent.”
For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of serving alongside Marines, this is what they mean by ”Semper Fi.”
God, I’m proud to be from the same country as these men.