Prepping for Iwo Jima...

Friday, March 24th....We received a comprehensive symposium and some strict regulations regarding the rules set down by the Japanese authorities regarding travel to Iwo. There is a ceremony, and all males must wear a sport jacket, tie and dress shirt. NO shorts! Mind you, Iwo temperatures at this time of year are in the 80s with humidity.


After the ceremony or once you leave the area where the ceremony is held, you can ditch the jacket, shirt and tie but still not shorts. We've been told we will be walking (NO transportation except for Iwo veterans) up to ten (10) miles in order to cover the area from the airport to the ceremony, then to the beaches on up to the base of Mt Suribachi. Climbing up to the summit, then back down and returning to the airport will be close to 10 miles. I thought it was going to be more like five miles, so I'll certainly be pacing this 77 1/2 year old body.

 The symposium was extremely comprehensive and a real history lesson. James Farley was the presenter, and he did a superlative job.

 My goal for the day was to meet two special people. Lucille is a nurse practitioner who has been in the medical field for over 60 years. She is on the staff of Military History Tours and had called me the week before I left regarding a blood thinner I take. We had a great chat. She has been to Iwo Jima 18 times and her husband fought on Peleliu. She is very gracious.

I also wanted to meet Louis Bourgoult who my friend Gene Brunelle ran into a few weeks ago in North Carolina. Come to find out, Louis is a Marine veteran of both Guam and Iwo and grew up in Worcester, MA, which is my boyhood home. Guess where he is today?

He is an incredibly spry 97 year old with a rock solid memory. We chatted as if we'd known each other forever.

Sitting next to him was his friend who had accompanied him. He introduced me to her because she had also lived in Worcester for a bit. Karen is a lovely lady and she asked me where in Worcester I had lived. When I told her the neighborhood, she looked very surprised. She then asked me the street. When I told her Rena Street, I couldn't believe the look in her eyes. She married a man that grew up on the exact same street. Here we are 8,000 miles from home and I run into someone who knew, by name and street number, four of my boyhood neighbors. We could have chatted for hours but alas, we depart for the airport in seven hours.

 I also got to meet Dan King who has written several books on the Japanese perspective on the war. He is incredibly knowledgeable and speaks and writes perfect Japanese. He is also a very nice guy. The group is bringing a signed flag to Iwo to give to the Japanese ambassador and Dan provided a translation. I sought him out and bought all of his books. Come to find out, he is a wicked fan of Back to The Future and knew all about me on both the military and BTTF front. We had a great chat. Here is a group shot with Dan, Don Codling and me.