Don Moore’s War Tales reached a milestone this week. There are now 900 war stories up on this website from almost every war this country has been involved in beginning with the American War Between the States right on up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sgt. Gary Hoffman of Englewood, Fla. who spent time in the Marines half a lifetime ago, contacted me a while back. He’s a Sun reader who likes war stories. Consequently he looks at my column from time to time. More importantly the old Marine e-mailed me a story he liked. I liked it too, so…
Don Platt remembers May 15, 1941, like it was yesterday. That’s the day he signed up to join the U.S. Navy, shortly after receiving his charter boat captain’s license at 21.
Bill Jordan and Dick Boos were Marine Corps buddies. Jordan was a “DUKW,” landing craft, driver and Boos a medic. Jordan survived World War II. Boos didn’t. He fell in the black, volcanic sand of Iwo Jima, six months before the end of WWII. He was 19.
The hand-written note on the back of the framed 8 X 10-inch black and white photo on the wall of Earl Swillum’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home reads: “Iwo Jima, Day 3.” On the flip side it shows LST-121 on the beach with its bow in the island’s black volcanic sand two days before the Marines put an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
Cpl. Walter O’Malley was a 19-year-old Browning Automatic Rifleman in the first wave of Marines who came ashore on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. His war ended six days later when he was struck in the leg and arm by two pieces of shrapnel from an enemy mortar.
Homer Beach was a “Buffalo,” amphibious vehicle driver, in the 3rd Marine Division. The 20-year-old corporal drove assault troops ashore on Guam, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima during World World II.
Earl Swillum went aboard an LST as a “90-Day Wonder” third officer and sailed into the war zone at the Battle for Saipan. Before the fighting in the Pacific was over he and the LSTH-121, which also served as a hospital ship, took part in three other major battles during World War II.
Dick Honyak walked into the Charlotte Sun newspaper office in Englewood, Fla. six years ago and dropped a big, thick, loose leaf notebook full of 8 by 10 black and white photographs on my desk. The historic photos were of the Marines taking Iwo Jima from the Japanese at the close of World War II.
The light cruiser Vicksburg laid a half-mile off the beach at Iwo Jima. Her 5-inch and 8-inch guns had pounded Mount Suribachi and the surround shoreline for days.