Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A wonderful take on Tom Hanks and WWII

From Zion Beckons.

Hot on the heels of Tom Hank’s incredibly stupid remarks about the Japanese and their role in World War II, I found a picture with a very special meaning. Sixty five years ago, Joe Rosenthal took the iconic and Pulitzer Prize winning picture of the flag raising on Mt Suribachi on the Japanese “home island” of Iwo Jima. On the fifth day of the battle (2/19/45 to 3/25/45) to take the volcanic island, the Marines managed to get to the top of the largest mountain on the island’s south end and raised Old Glory. The occasion turned out to be more symbolic than practical as the Japanese forces were in a warren of tunnels and caves spread throughout the island.

I remember well, as a an avid war follower as a thirteen year-old youngster, the thrill of seeing the flag raising picture on the front page of the Des Moines Register as I prepared to make deliveries on my route. I had followed each hard won dispatch from the scene and appreciated the sacrifice entailed in that event. I had close relatives in the South Pacific, and rightly feared for their safety. As I consumed each reported detail, the severity of the action came home to me. I fully understood the enemy’s attitudes on surrender and feared for our men. Of the original Japanese garrison on Iwo Jima, 22,785 men, only 216 were taken alive. The allied force lost 6,821 dead and 26,038 wounded.

Iwo in Japanese means “sulpher” which is typical of a volcano along with the black sands and the pervasive rotten egg stench. The sands deprived the Marines of any protection in fox holes since they were impossible to properly construct in the loose volcanic detritus. With that many men total on an island with an area of about 10 square miles and no cover, massive casualties were to be anticipated. No one could realize how severe. The enemy was well ensconced in bunkers and tunnels and little affected by bombardment from sea or air. Overlooked by the intelligence on the island was the fact it had been used as an artillery training facility before the assault and every gun was zeroed on familiar targets with exact known ranges. It is only a miracle that prevented even greater loss of life.

As a “home” island, it had a special significance to the defenders as the first surface assault on the Japanese homeland. The invasion and capture was deemed necessary to provide a dual purpose in air attacks on the mainland. Upon its seizure, we had a relief stop for the constant stream of B-29’s which rained their bomb loads on Japan proper. It also enabled the shorter range fighters to accompany those sorties and protect them from hostile resistance. Lastly, it was a jumping off point for the eventual capture of Okinawa, a much larger and closer island to Imperial Japan.

There are few people living today who fully understand the concept of “all out war.” We live in a world of talk, threat, intimidate, sneak terror attacks, and enemies of indistinguishable nationality. During WWII, the objective was to annihilate those who sought to abridge our freedoms and victimize others. Early in the encounter, those who fought did not fully understand how long and how committed they would have to be. They soon learned and did their job well. They clearly understood the meaning of honor, duty, perseverance, and shunned any references to heroics. Could a boy grow up with better role models? My opinion of those selfless heroes is firmly fixed and will never be changed. I am very disappointed and outraged that Mr. Hanks does not understand these simple truths.

It’s about liberty!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

1 comment:

Proof said...

Mr. Hanks may not realize that the difference between WWII and a WWII movie is that the troops didn't file out of the theater after two hours!