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Iwo Jima Anniversary: A McLean Veteran Remembers

67 Years Ago This Morning, the Marines Landed in Hell

Sixty-seven years ago this morning, Feb. 19, 1945,  the Fifth Marine Division landed in a hell named Iwo Jima.

McLean resident James Wheeler was one of the thousands of  teenage U.S. Marines who participated in the invasion. He saw the historic flag-raising Feb. 23. He also saw the death and horror that makes Iwo Jima not a name but an emotion.

He recalled the battle for Iwo Jima at a November's Veterans Day Observance in McLean.

 Of all the Pacific island battles during World War II, Iwo Jima is the best known— and the deadliest.

Marines fought and died on Iwo Jima for an airfield. An airfield that became a base for the fighters that would accompany B-29's on bombing missions over Japan. And a airfield that was the salvation for B-29 crews in damaged planes.

Five airmen lived for every Marine who died.

We share James Wheeler's video story because we can never forget.

If you are a World War II veteran or the son or daugther of one of the heroes, please let us hear from you.  And, thank you for saving the world.

Suzanne April 07, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Great article and interview with my dad. Thank you for the opportunity to share his story. Suzanne Wheeler Klein
Bobbi Bowman April 07, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Dear Suzanne, Your dad is a hero. We hope he's doing well. Semper Fi!
Sandi Smigel April 08, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Dear Suzanne, Your Dad is a hero!! My Dad, Mario Scampini, also fought on Iwo Jima. He was 19 too! My Dad died two years ago of Alzheimer's disease. He was a great man!. I am sure you are bursting with pride. Your Dad looks awesome - what a great speaker. I could listen to those hero stories forever. I miss my Dad dearly - please cherish every moment you have with him.
Suzanne April 08, 2011 at 06:39 AM
Oh Sandi, thank you so much. I know. We are trying to hard to collect the names of Iwo Veterans and their family members too. I'll invite you to my page on FB. So sorry to hear about your dad. My dad is the caregiver now to my mom was recently diagnosed. We don't know what this journey will bring. Nice to meet you. And Bobbi, thank you again. I have a PR company and might float some pitches your way!
Ashley Denton February 22, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Hey this is a great article… I'm in awe of what these young men did at Iwo Jima. If you have a moment my friend Izzy Ismert just posted a blog entitled, 'Anniversary of a Great Climb: Iwo Jima | Ours is a Different Mountain'. I'd appreciate it if you check it out. http://bit.ly/wAcIU9
Keith O'Mara February 19, 2013 at 12:37 AM
I am a Former Marine....1971-1973....and I had the HONOR of knowing another Former Marine who was an IWO JIMA Survivor. His name is Emil Samuelson and he wrote a book about his experience. It was modestly titled..."Just Another Marine". These Marines taught me the meaning of "SEMPER FIDELIS".

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