Published: March 21st 2008March 21st 2008
Thursday, March 20th
Today we awoke to be able to see land, not that impressive unless you have previously sailed for three days and not seen any land. And this was not just any land but Iwo Jima! Yes we got to see this small, but incredible island, only 5 miles long and 2 and one half miles wide. Statistics from that battle show there were:
800 ships, 74 days of bombing, 36 days of hand-to-hand combat, 11 miles of fortified tunnels, 10,000 soldiers per square mile, 12,600 pints of plasma, 27 Medals of Honor, over 25,000 Americans wounded, over 20,000 Japanese died,and over 6,000 Americans died.
The ship was able to get fairly close, about where the ships putting shells on it were positioned during then invasion 63 years ago. We could still see the gun emplacements and shell damage to Mt Suribachi. The beaches were black sand and you could see the rise that the marines had to overcome to get off the beach. There were a lot of buildings on the island as it is a Naval Air Base now for Japan with about 400 assigned personnel. We took several minutes of movie and a lot of pictures. We also spotted a lot of whales in the waters as we cruised near the island. They had a wonderful memorial ceremony just before we left and read the same words used by the Chaplain who spoke on Iwo when they dedicated the cemetery for the 6,000 marines. All the Americans were removed to Hawaii in the 60’s. There are still over 100 marines not accounted for left in the caves on Iwo.
It was a very special day to see Iwo Jima and anything else is just minor.
Tomorrow is another sea day as we find the cruise coming slowly to an end next week on Tuesday.