Feb 22, 2009
64th Anniversary of the Iwo Jima landing - NYC dinner
The following comes from "Sheamus" who was writing about a dinner held last night at Gallagher's Steak House in New York City, where one of the highlights of the evening was a message from MajGen
"Last night 29 active duty and Marines no longer serving on active duty gathered at Gallagher's Steak House to celebrate and remember the Iwo Jima Campaign. We were blessed to have three brother Marines who fought on that island.
We began the night with a reading of your very moving message. I saw tears roll down the cheek of one of the Iwo vets. I presented each of them with a signed copy. The fun of the evening was to watch the Iwo Marines, all in their eighties, become 19 years old again. You could see the sparkle in their eyes and the spring in their step as they interacted with their younger brothers of today's Corps.
Major Devine and Master Guns Robertson represented you well, the later delivering a very informative presentation of the upcoming support of the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. Majors Jason Smith and Whitley, and Sergeants Major Gary Buck, Heyward and Squires rounded out the active Marines present who work for you.
I need to point out that Sergeant Major Squires above all made the biggest impression on the Iwo Marines. They were astounded by the reverence and respect shown to them by the sergeant major. Bear in mind that during their Pacific Campaigns they never even SAW a sergeant major let alone spoke with one.
Retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs (MOH-Vietnam) graced us with stories of his admiration of Marines and our Corps.
Allen Striffler representing the Iwo vets spoke about D-Day and the night before the invasion. Your could hear a pin drop in the entire dining room. A number of civilians stopped by our tables to say "Thank you!" The Marines took it upon themselves to give their baseball caps to the youngsters in the dining room. I suppose the recruiting effort never stops.
It was another great day to be a Marine. God blessed us when he gave us the opportunity to earn the title.
Thanks for your help and participation with the dinner. You were missed.
GENERAL MILSTEAD’S REMARKS
Good evening fellow Marines. I regret not being with you tonight - great food, great company, and a great town. But I am especially sorrowful because tonight you are blessed to enjoy the company of giants - men that fought on Iwo Jima. Today is a very special day in the history of our Corps. Sixty-four years ago today, at 0859, the first assault waves of the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima. Before the battle was over, the Marines would suffer 26,000 casualties; 6,000 Marines were killed taking that island.
Twenty-two Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor, the most ever awarded for a single engagement. On an island only 7 1/2 square miles in size, almost 100,000 men were locked in mortal combat. 21,000 Japanese died in place. It is said that for every piece of ground the size of a football field, one Marine was killed and five were wounded. Why do we hold the Battle for Iwo Jima in such reverence? The iconic image of our flag being raised on Mt. Suribachi has become as representative of our Corps as the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. It is our War Memorial.
Iwo Jima is the benchmark we Marines use to measure all other battles. In early April of 2003 when the 1st Marine Division was approaching Baghdad, the Assistant Division Commander, BGen John Kelly, was asked by a reporter about the significant task ahead of taking Baghdad. John's reply was classic: "We're Marines. We took Iwo Jima. Baghdad ain't shit!" So tonight enjoy yourselves. And always remember, we are Marines. We remain not occasionally faithful, we remain not maybe faithful, we remain not sometimes faithful, but we remain ALWAYS faithful. Semper Fidelis.