At last the word came for us to land our troops. And was I scared? I certainly was! But there was too much to think about to worry much about being afraid. Anyhow we got our boats away with no difficulty, assembled them according to plan and shoved off for the beach.
We threaded our way through the biggest collection of ships I’ve ever seen; transports, LST’s gun boats, destroyers, tugs, net layers, LSM’s in such numbers that they obscured the part of the island we were heading for and we had to steer by compass. Jack had gone on ahead to locate the control vessel to which we had to report before hitting the beach. Before I’d lead the parade more than halfway there, he was back with precise knowledge of its location so that no time was lost on our seven mile trip.
To my dismay I found upon reaching the control boat that there were scores of small boats milling around in exactly the area I needed to dispose my own boats for the final dash to this beach. Before I could improvise my way out of this we were told to hit the beach. I had to lag behind for a few minutes to get the word to all my boat officers because the situation was so confused I was afraid the last waves would not get the word and would not understand the dispatch signals. The result was that I found myself about half a mile to seaward of my proper position which was ahead of the first wave not a thousand yards in the rear.
I spent the most agonizing ten or fifteen minutes of my life catching up to the first wave and passing through it to take the lead into the beach. It seemed like hours and although my boat is faster than any of the others I felt as if we were standing still. If I ever have nightmares about Iwo Jima it will be about this particular part of it. We did make it however and by that time were close enough to the beach to see the mess that was already there. It gave me a terrific jolt. We hadn’t encountered much enemy fire on the way in and none of our boats were hit but the beach was so badly littered with wrecked landing craft that I first thought all my boats would not be able to land simultaneously.