Sunday, May 16, 2010

THE PACIFIC

Incredible series on HBO that concluded tonight in a powerful finale showing the return of the surviving soldiers to their homes. There are now over 1000 world war two veterans dying a day. Their sacrifice has been lost in a world full of greed. They died and sacrificed to protect our freedom and constitution. I hope that somehow our leaders and our country survives this. Joe believes it will. I am not as sanguine. Once the constitution becomes convenient then the foundation of the nation becomes quicksand. If you missed the HBO series....I encourage you to watch it. The conclusion is remarkably well done.

I will have my morning coffee with my friend Bob. Bob was on Iwo Jima at the age of 16...He carried a flame thrower. He is growing old now but I have learned much over the years from Bob about his generation. Bob became a history teacher, and married with 3 children. I told him what was coming several years ago. He cannot believe what his sacrifice has become. He knew Chesty Puller and John Basilone. God Bless him.


Lest he never be forgotten.....

John Basilone (November 4, 1916 – February 19, 1945) was a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant who received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.

He served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines before joining the Marine Corps in 1940. After attending training, Basilone deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Solomon Islands and eventually to Guadalcanal where he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-member unit was reduced to two men. He was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima, after which he was posthumously honored with the Navy Cross. He has received many honors including being the namesake for streets, military locations and a United States Navy destroyer.

War bond tour and marriage
After receiving the Medal of Honor, he returned to the United States and participated in a war bond tour. His arrival was highly publicized and his hometown held a parade in his honor when he returned. The homecoming parade occurred on Sunday, September 19, 1943 and drew a huge crowd with thousands of people, including politicians, celebrities, and the national press. The parade made national news in Life magazine and Fox Movietone News.[5] After the parade, he toured the country raising money for the war effort and achieved celebrity status. Although he appreciated the admiration, he felt out of place and requested to return to the operating forces fighting the war. The Marine Corps denied his request and told him he was needed more on the home front. He was offered a commission, but he turned it down and later offered an assignment as an instructor but refused it as well. He requested again to return to the war and this time the request was approved. He left for Camp Pendleton, California for training on December 27, 1943. While stationed at Camp Pendleton, he met his future wife Lena Mae Riggi, a Sergeant in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. They were married at St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church in Oceanside on July 10, 1944, with a reception at the Carlsbad Hotel. They honeymooned at her parents' onion farm in Portland.[6] He requested a return to the fighting in the Pacific theatre.[6]

[edit] Iwo Jima
After his request to return to the fleet was approved, he was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945 he was serving as a machine-gun section leader in action against Japanese forces on Red Beach II. During the battle, the Japanese concentrated their fire at the incoming Americans from heavily fortified blockhouses staged throughout the island. With his unit pinned down, Basilone made his way around the side of the Japanese positions until he was directly on top of the blockhouse. He then attacked with grenades and demolitions, single handedly destroying the entire strongpoint and its defending garrison. He then fought his way toward Airfield Number 1 and aided an American tank that was trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages. He guided the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite heavy weapons fire from the Japanese. As he moved along the edge of the airfield, he was killed by Japanese mortar shrapnel. His actions helped Marines penetrate the Japanese defense and get off the landing beach during the critical early stages of the invasion. For his valor during the battle of Iwo Jima, he was posthumously approved for the Marine Corps' second highest decoration for bravery, the Navy Cross.[7]

His body was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia and his grave can be found in Section 12, Grave 384, grid Y/Z 23.5.[8] Lena M Basilone died June 11, 1999 at the age of 86 and is buried at Riverside National Cemetery.[9] Lena's obituary notes that she never remarried.[

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