Enough time has passed so that I can now give you an account of the Iwo Jima operation, not an overall account because censorship regulations won’t permit and anyhow you’ve already gotten more facts from the newspapers and magazines than I know. But I can give you the picture in terms of my own personal experiences. Keep that in mind as you read this because otherwise the preoccupation with my own small part in the affair will make you think I’ve lost my perspective.
I think all of us had a sense of unreality as we steamed in convoy from the advanced base towards Iwo Jima. Everything was peaceful and calm, even the weather, and there was no sign of opposition from any direction. We had been warned of the danger of suicide bombing attacks and each morning at our before dawn G.Q.’s were tense and ready but nothing happened.
No one had to be called for D-Day G.Q. Everyone was up early and I think most of the battle stations were manned before the alarm sounded. As soon as we got on deck we could see the flashes of naval gunfire. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers were giving Iwo a going over. Occasionally an ammunition or fuel dump would be hit and we’d see a big flash in addition to the smaller one made when the shell hit. Those big flashes were each an individual comfort because they meant less stuff ashore for the Japs to throw at us.
I thought surely that we would be attacked from the air at this point but we weren’t and as a matter of fact I’ve never laid eyes on a Jap plane. The air boys did a magnificent job.
As we got nearer the island we could begin to see the real thing that we’d been studying in pictures, charts and relief maps. Illuminating flares were being thrown up constantly and soon we could see Mt. Surabachi at the southern tip of the island, the low ground immediately north of it where we were to land, and the higher, craggy part of the island on the northern end which was to be so tough for the marines to take.