Bill's final landing on Iwo Jima...

Saturday, March 25th...MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! It all began with “rise and shine" at 4 a.m. We arrived at the airport around 6:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. flight but two of my dear travel companions, Dusta and Scott, had access to the United Airlines lounge so the wait was tolerable.

 There were around 400 people going to Iwo on three planes. It's the biggest group that's ever traveled to Iwo for these reunions. A lot of this has to do with the three-year hiatus due to the island being shut down by covid.

 The Japanese only allow visitors on the island one day a year and that is generally around March 26th as that is the day, we "secured" the island. They really don't want us there at all and make it very difficult for visitors. However, nothing and no one was going to prevent me from making this pilgrimage. 

We were told during the orientation that if you wanted to go to the ceremony, walk down to the beach, then go to and climb Mt. Suribachi and then return to the airfield. You'd be walking over 10 miles. We were told, beforehand, that shuttles could be available but there would be long waits. In reality, NO shuttles were available and we saw dozens of empty buses and trucks go by us on multiple occasions. The only ones provided transportation were the Iwo Jima veterans and their helpers. We were told there were about nine Iwo veterans, the youngest of which was 97!


There were hundreds of older people who were unable to complete this arduous journey, and we saw many medical incidents. It wasn't until late in the day that buses would stop and pick up people and that was somewhat due to the plane schedule.

The ceremony had a Japanese and a US portion. Then, it was down a fairly steep hill to the invasion beaches.

I stopped and spoke with one veteran who was having a very emotional moment. That was heavy! 

There were many occasions when I thought of all these brave young men fighting to climb up this ridge which is now covered somewhat with vegetation. Their boots were sinking deep into this sharp volcanic ash. They were making little headway and all the time knowing that if they raised their head up, they were likely to be shot dead. They were moving by fallen comrades and being told to keep moving forward. 

I spent some time on the beach and gathered some Iwo Jima sand. 

Then I struggled back up the hill to the main road to the mountain. There was a huge concrete emplacement with a knocked-out gun. 

Dan King took a photo of me trying to catch my breath.  

Once I got back to the main road, it was about 2 1/2 miles to the base of Suribachi. 

Periodically there were Marines and Japanese personnel who offered advice and some had ice you could get. However, nowhere was there any drinking water or bathrooms except at the airport hangar.


Next was the climb to the top of Suribachi. Man, I would never have been able to complete my mission without "a little help from my friends". The view from the top is breathtaking. My friends, Charlie and Craig, were very helpful with the photos.

The one that really touched my heart was to see Marines helping a Marine who fought on Iwo. 

Then, it was time to place the dog tags of my two Great Uncles alongside so many other brave soldiers who have served our great country. 

It was a special moment in my life's journey.


It was time to leave and I still had three miles to go to get back to the airport. Were it not for help and continuous encouragement from my good friends Duska and Scott, I might not have been able to complete this part of the journey. Altogether, I logged just under ten miles for the day and I was extremely dehydrated in spite of drinking eight bottles of water and four Pedialytes.

It was certainly a journey worth taking.

You know I slept well that night.  Stay tuned...