Letter from Jack Brodsky to his parents.
July 14, 1945
Perhaps you might be interested in how our ship and its troops aboard reacted on D-Day at Iwo Jima and so with little other material for a letter at hand I’ll go back to Feb.19th and give you an idea of the situation and how our lads faced it.
The day was warm and clear and by 7 o’clock the sun was well over the horizon brightly reflected in the calm waters surrounding the island. Our convoy was large, and as we steamed in we noted an ever larger number of ships already on the scene. The larger units (battlewagons and cruisers) lay up close to the beach and with an almost point blank pounding smashed huge shells into the tiny island. Overhead planes swept low to drop bombs and radio reports to outlying vessels regarding the disposition of Jap troops and gun emplacements. No Nip aircraft or fleet was to be seen. Then about 20 minutes prior to the actual landing we opened up in full. A continuous roar and the crescendo of thousands of explosions rocked the air and smoke billowed high into the air blotting out vision of some portions of the island.
Then the order came for the troops to debark, boats were lowered and nets thrown over the side and the troops clambered down into the waiting landing craft. Our boys were going in, confident, sure of their task and the ability to accomplish its fulfillment – “See you in Life Magazine” shouted one and another bellowed “Make way Tokyo here comes Red Falls, Montana”. It was 0900 (9am) and our gang was in the assault wave. Slowly we pushed our way in until we were only a few hundred yards off Green Beach at the foot of Mt. Suribachi. The Japs had taken sixty days pounding such as we’d seen that morning already and we were pretty sure they couldn’t throw up much opposition now. Then the boats circled once, twice and falling into formation roared in. It was just a little after 0900 that the Japs opened up. Of those first craft many were blown out of the water before they reached the beach and the troops that did get in found it hard to dig in or advance in the coarse slipping volcanic ash. Their range was good, too damn good and with that first mortar barrage all the Marines could do was keep down and hug the ground.
We noticed shells dropping about 50 yards off our fantail and we ducked in to get our helmets. Then it came – “Stand by to receive casualties at Blue Net 5” and our first wounded came aboard. They were hurt bad, it wasn’t pretty and they mumbled, those who could, first eyewitness reports. “Jesus Christ it’s murder” said a Guadalcanal veteran and another kid, not more than 18 kept reiterating “Oh God, Oh God…”
We underestimated our foe. It was going to be rough as hell and we knew we had a real fight on our hands. It was 1020 am now and then we stopped thinking as we settled down to the job at hand for the wounded were streaming in from the beach…That was about it, guys,Love - Jackie