Passing the International Date Line...

Tuesday, March the 21st...It was a long travel day including an eight hour flight to Guam. We got to know each other better while we were sitting in the United Airlines lounge. We have some very interesting people traveling with us.


David, who is a cinematographer and film editor for Tim Gray who founded the World War II Foundation, was born in Guam. His Dad died in the sixties and was buried in Guam. He plans to find the grave that nobody from his family had visited since then. At the time, he was only two years old. I told him about finding my two Uncles' graves and I hoped that gave him motivation.

Charlie is on a very special mission. His Dad was with the 5th Marine Division and fought on Iwo Jima. Our film crew will be following him and his wife, Sheila, as they trace his Dad's footsteps. 


I now know that the official name for the documentary will be "The Final Landing on Iwo Jima."


Phillip's trip to Iwo will also have a special meaning. He was there in 1995 as an 18-year-old Lance Corporal in the USMC as part of the Marine contingent. He told me there were lots of veterans from both sides that he got to meet. He is bringing the same flag he had with him in 1995. It has been 27 years but he remembers it like it was yesterday.

Thursday, March 23rd......Yes, you heard it right. We passed the International Date Line, so we have now leapfrogged a day ahead.


We arrived in Guam after an eight hour flight from Honolulu. We had a day mostly filled with touring some of the battle areas and the invasion beaches. You should look up this hard fought campaign which lasted from July 21st to August 10th, 1944.


The US had over 7,600 casualties and the Japanese had almost 18,000 killed. It was a vital steppingstone to the Pacific war.

We stopped at the Pacific Memorial which was also the last headquarters and hold-out for the Japanese.

There is a chapel along with a memorial with hands in prayer. 

We visited the caves where the Japanese tried to hide out and saw some battlefield relics.

The Japanese were brutal to the locals after they occupied Guam in 1941. They eventually put them in concentration camps. There is a monument to the struggles of the Chamorros who were part of the local population which our guide took us to. 

After lunch we visited The War in the Pacific National State Park run by the Park Service because Guam is still a territory of the US. They had a very fine example of a Japanese two-man sub that had run aground and a fine nine minute movie on the battle for Guam with a wicked neat interactive map. It was the best I've ever seen. 

The last stop was an overlook of the invasion beaches and a memorial listing of all US soldiers killed in the battle and many Chamorros who were affected by the war. There was a series of signs pointing to the many other battles fought in the Pacific.  


Here are a few Japanese beach bunkers which feature my longtime pal, Don Codling.

Before I tell you about my date with destiny, let me tell you some facts about Iwo Jima, most of which I gathered at a symposium held the day before our journey as narrated by James Farley, who made an excellent presentation.

Most of you know about the famous photo which became quite controversial regarding the actual identity of the flag raisers, etc. However, as a refresher, here are some factoids you may or may not know:


  • Iwo Jima is approximately 554' high.
  • Iwo Jima is still a very active volcano. If it has a major eruption it is likely to cause an enormous tsunami which would be disastrous.
  • The US made 78 amphibious landings in the Pacific. Iwo Jima was number 56.
  • Including all the USMC and USN landing on the island, we had 75,000 personnel invading the island.
  • If you include the approximately 800 ships with all their crews, the total rises to approximately 250,000. The Japanese had 21,000 on the island.
  • 216 Japanese POWs were taken on Iwo and most were unconscious or disabled.
  • Here's a battle statement you probably never heard...It was like throwing human flesh against a concrete barrier.
  • Many called Iwo Jima a porkchop because of its shape.
  • Two Japanese navy machine gunners finally surrendered in January 1949. US Air Force personnel thought they were Chinese.
  • 6,821 Marines were killed and there were over 19,000 wounded.
  • 2,400 B-29s made landings on Iwo Jima. Some while the battle was still raging. If you figured each B-29 had a crew of 10, that is potentially 24,000 lives that might have been lost should we not have secured this island.

There is so much more but hopefully this will pique your interest to do more investigating on your own.

With the loss of a day, we are still going strong...STAY TUNED for what's next!!