View Full Version : My Friend, An Old Iwo Marine

09-28-10, 06:51 AM
I have not posted here before, but registered some time ago. If you have the September issue of Leatherneck the letter of the month is my letter and I wanted to share it with you. This visit took place in June, and another is planned for this week. Sgt Ward's health is failing fast...he is now on hospice care. Here is the story that was published: I wanted to share this with all Marines...Gordon is like a Dad to me...like family, and I thank God every day that Gordon came into my life:

I have a dear friend I met at my mall many years ago....his name is
Sgt Gordon Ward, 1/25,USMC. He was one of the first to land on Iwo
Jima, was shot, was rescued, and has some pretty incredible stories to
tell. I was blessed to have met him those many years ago, and blessed
to have become his friend. And let me tell you, he has some stories to
tell. As a matter of fact, until a year ago, when his health started
to deteriorate, he spent most weekends down at the Iwo Jima Memorial,
telling those stories to the tourists...and anyone who wanted to learn
some of the history of that battle.

Fast forward.....the last year he has really started to suffer the
affects of aging, and walking and breathing are not as easy as they once
were. His health is declining. He sold his home and he and his wife
now live in an assisted living residence. His spirits were very low, he
was frustrated at his state of decline, and missing his trips downtown.
(Ana, his daughter, has managed to get him down there every couple of
weeks with his wheelchair and oxygen so that he could once again
entertain the tourists with his stories). Anyway, I realized that the
one thing that would bring him hope and the return of his pride would be
a visit from Marines. I tried many different sources....from the local
recruiting office all the way up to Commandant Conway's office. Not one
place I called panned out. I felt disappointed, and had given up
hope....thinking the only time the Marines would see Gordon again was at
his funeral.

On Memorial Weekend, a Vietnam veteran and friend reminded me to try the
Marine Corps League (which I had tried before to no avail). I went to
their website, clicked on "Contact us" and told my story, asking if
they might be able to visit Gordon while he is still alive. Within an
hour I got a reply from the Exec Director, Michael Blum...and he said he
was forwarding my request to his fellow Marines that were more local
that he. Shortly thereafter I got an email from one of his Marines
asking if the following Thursday (the Thursday after Memorial Day) would
be alright for a few Marines to stop by to visit. Well....I just about
cried....called Ana, and they all arranged through the Residence to be
there. I thought it would be a couple of Marines....and their two
therapy dogs, which are ranked Lcpls!!! Gracie and Buster.

So...the social director decided to invite some of the residents and it
was to be a surprise. Gordon's wife was wheeled in, then many of the
residents...into a large social area. The first MCL Marine arrived
with the dogs, and set up the room. Then two more Marines arrived, then
several more, all in their red "Marines Helping Marines" shirts, and
their MCL covers. They brought many gifts for Gordon, including a
certificate you can see in the photos that are attached. Bob, the lead
of the group, asked Gordon questions about his war experiences and he
gave very clear explanations of all of his experiences...from the two
Navy Corpsmen who lost their lives trying to save him, to shooting the
Japanese, to watching the raising of the flag on Mt Suribachi. The
residents were enthralled, as were the Marines and the staff. One
other resident announced that it was his Coast Guard ship from which
second flag was taken to raise on Mt Suribachi. When you look at the
photos you will see how wonderful this gathering was for
everyone...including me. I was near tears many times, just from the joy
of knowing how much Gordon and his family were grateful for the
recognition. As the social director said to me later, now Gordon will
be seen in a different light by all the other residents.

I feel incredibly blessed that the Lord made this possible...and I give
Him the glory....only He could have been responsible for this taking
place.....the Holy Spirit was everywhere....you could feel it in the
room.....the blessings were enormous...and as I said, it is hard to put
this into words. Gordon was totally surprised, but he knew it was I
that orchestrated it because he knows how much I love him as a friend
and as a Marine. I called and thanked each of those who participated
in making this dream come true...and the best thing is that those
Marines will now stay in touch with Gordon and make visits to let him
know that he is still one of them.

Here is the link for the photos that Paul, one of those Marine veterans
took....enjoy...and smile! Semper Fidelis, Susan

P.S. Last minute that morning I called the local paper, the Gazette,
leaving a message of what was going to take place and the actually got a
reporter out there early who stayed late to interview many of the
Marines, the residents, and take photos. I hear he was thoroughly
entranced in the 'living history'....can't wait to see the article that
is forthcoming.


You can also Google Sgt Gordon Ward Iwo Jima and find some excellent

On Father's Day I delivered to Gordon a beautiful quilt from QOV.
Gordon was so moved by the quilt that he managed to sing the
Marine Corps Hymn to me....!!! And stood to salute. I have to tell
you, this was one of the most emotional events ever!


09-28-10, 07:40 AM