On The Morning Of 19, February, 1945
The well trained but Battle-new crew of the U.S.S. DARKE received the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines Division at Hilo, Island of Hawaii, and set sail for Eniwetok with top secret, sealed orders. After leaving Eniwetok on a Northerly course, the orders were broken out. The mission was "seize and occupy Iwo Jima. D-Day is 19, February, 1945".
*Before dawn on that day, the Marines beach party ate a hearty breakfast of steak and spuds - in not a few cases, mingled with butterflies in the abdomen. At 0800, boats were lowered and loaded with rugged, determined Marines. The pre-landing bombardment was incessant and deafening.
Wave after wave of landing boats hit the beach after threading through Futuatsu Rocks. Mt. Suribachi (Hot Rocks) belched mortar and artillery fire at us as did innumerable gun and mortar emplacements everywhere on the island. One of the ship's LCVP's was hit after landing her troops. Many of the Marines who had grimly given the V sign with their fingers, were now stretched face down on the black volcanic ash of Iwo's beaches. More Marines came and charged over rows of dead and wounded comrades. They inched forward. Behind were Marine green uniforms almost elbow to elbow from the base of Mt. Suribachi to the northwesterly limit of the landing beaches. Buddies died, cursed and fought on. The ship's Beach Party dug foxholes almost at the water's edge. Marine burying parties worked around the clock amid constant enemy fire. On the morning of the third day, exposed bodies were fewer but the death stench was heavy. The boats, unloading supplies on the beach and evacuating casualties to the hospital ships, were still being subjected to heavy beach fire. On the morning of 21, February a landing boat from the Darke was in communication with Lt. Col. Tratti and Major Day of the 2nd Battalion. Shortly after that, a mortar shell from the island hit the boat wounding two Navy men. Later that morning a shell hit the Marine command near the air strip killing Col. Trotti and Major Day. Doggedly the boats poured in the supplies; grimly and heroically, the Marines outfought the Japs. On the sixth day, with four boats lost, the Darke went into the beach to evacuate the Beach Party. As the Beach Party was leaving, two of their members were wounded and were taken to a hospital ship.
*On her return to Saipan, the Darke's medical staff worked unceasingly to save the lives of the 206 wounded that we had brought off the island from the bitter battle as the hospital ships were filled to capacity. The chaplain of the Darke reverently committed nine brave heros to the bottom of the sea. Just before reaching Saipan, one more fighter passed to his rest. He was taken to join his comrades in the Marine cemetery on Saipan. The dog-tired doctors and corpsmen, heavy-lidded from sleeplessness, worked through the night transporting these wounded to the hospital at Saipan.
The Darke had come through her battle test with the steadiness of a veteran and without loss of life to her crew.