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Remembering the black sands of Iwo Jima

World War II veterans honored at Highland Springsc

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Clyde Jackson was only 19 when he landed on the shores of Iwo Jima. As a member of the 5th Marine Division, Clyde joined more than 30,000 Marines charged with capturing the airfields on the Japanese stronghold. The first wave of U.S. troops landed on Iwo Jima the morning of February 19, 1945. The fighting, some of the fiercest of World War II, lasted more than a month. On February 17, 14 Dallas Fort Worth-area Iwo Jima veterans reunited at Highland Springs for a breakfast reception in their honor. The North Dallas Erickson Living community, in association with Daughters of World War II and Honor Flight DFW, hosted the event to mark the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. A number of other World War II veterans also attended. We have three Iwo Jima veterans living at Highland Springs Clyde Jackson, Bob Knight, and Jim Roth so it s an honor for us to host this event, says Barbara Blachly, community resources coordinator. Clyde was standing six feet away from Joe Rosenthal when Rosenthal snapped the iconic Raising the flag on Iwo Jima photograph. If I had known how famous that picture would be, I would have run up there and put a hand on the pole, says Clyde, who returned to Iwo Jima in March for the first time since the war. For many veterans, the reunion at Highland Springs was emotional. It does my heart good to be here, says Don Graves, who gave the invocation at the event. When you re in harm s way, it has a Band of Brothers effect, and you become a family. Some of the attendees hadn t seen each other in 67 years. Jim Carver, who served in the Navy, was seated at a table with Don Boots and Bob Knight, both from the 4th Marine Division. The soldiers swapped memories and even took the opportunity to needle each other. I was on the ship that dropped these boys on Iwo Jima, says Jim. Don told me he has been looking for me for 67 years because I put him on that island and left him there.

A time to remember

Emcee Scott Murray invited the Iwo Jima veterans to join him on the platform and share their experiences. Several veterans described their reaction at seeing the American flag go up on Mount Suribachi, with many noting that the image captured by Rosenthal was actually the second flag-raising of the day. Bill Schott was lying in a foxhole when he saw the flag go up. To this day, I think the American flag is the most beautiful thing I ve ever seen, he says. Other veterans described the personal toll of the invasion. I was 18 when I landed on Iwo Jima, says Bill Hiestand. Two hours later I was 45. Laura Leppert, co-founder and president of the Daughters of World War II, presented each Iwo Jima veteran with a crystal eagle. These were ordinary men who performed extraordinary deeds on the battlefield, she says.