Marines recall...
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 ; Updated: 7:56 AM on Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fran Wilder of Wells, Minn., served as a cook but had no field training before he was assigned to L Company on Iwo. On patrol, his sergeant spotted a hole in a cave and told Wilder to throw in a grenade. Everybody dropped to the ground, but no explosion came. The sergeant asked Wilder if he had pulled the pin.

He replied, "What pin?"

Robert Perrin of Richmond, Va., a replacement on patrol with other Marines, had caught some Japanese in the open and killed 45 within a few minutes. But then his patrol met an enemy patrol in a cane field, and the Japanese fired first. Perrin was hit in the arm, spent three days in the hospital and made it back to L Company just before Iwo Jima.

"The odor, smell and flies were sickening," Perrin said. "Every time you opened a can of C-Rations, blow flies would swarm onto it."

Bud Hampton of Chapel Hill, N.C., received a battlefield commission to 2nd lieutenant on Saipan. He doesn't know why. "I went to the aid station for my physical, and the doctor said, 'Have you been here since the first day?' I said yes, and he said, 'Well, you pass.'"

Hampton stayed a sergeant until the papers came though.

"We had outstanding officers in our company. It was one big family and still is."

On Iwo he served as a platoon leader and said they had 10 officers when they landed.

"Eight or nine days later, I was wounded by shrapnel and was the only officer left."

Hugh Jones of Lander, Wyo., was hit by the shock wave of a shell on Saipan and suffered broken ribs. He recovered and went back on line.

"There were some black Marines on Iwo Jima working as stevedores. We spotted a column of Japanese troops coming up the valley, and they all grabbed weapons," he said. "They helped up out quite a bit. I was really impressed by them."

Art Menge of Glendale, Wisc., was on all the landings except Tinian, and on Iwo was assigned as a company runner, hand-delivering messages from the commander to other officers in the field.

"It wasn't volunteer. It was required that I assist in that position," he joked. "It is scary to be all by yourself and try to locate a platoon when it's not where it is supposed to be."

On one of those runs, he spotted a wounded Marine who needed help to the aid station and picked him up.

There was some sort of explosion after that; he woke up in a hospital three days later.

"I never knew what happened," Menge said.

The company was awarded two Presidential Unit Citations. One Marine, Douglas Jacobson of Rochester, N.Y., was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo.

He knocked out a 20mm anti-aircraft gun, a tank and, 16 blockhouses with a bazooka, killing a total of 75 enemy soldiers. He later got out of the Marines and then rejoined and served in Vietnam in 1964.