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Thread: Last Iwo Jima Chaplain Dies
05-25-10, 10:59 AM #1
Last Iwo Jima Chaplain Dies
In the bloodiest days of Iwo Jima, he spoke the last words over fallen Marines and Navy corpsmen as they were buried in the island’s black sand. On 20 May 2010, Marines, sailors and soldiers returned the favor to the late Rev. E. Gage Hotaling of Agawam MA, sending the old Navy chaplain on to join his comrades with military honors.
Hotaling was the last surviving chaplain who served ashore with the Marines at Iwo. He joined the Chaplain Corps at age 28 in 1944 because he didn't feel he could preach to the WW II generation unless he knew what they had endured, so he found himself with the 4th Marine Division on Iwo Jima. Some of his experiences on Iwo Jima are included in the book, “Flags of Our Fathers,” which tells the stories of the men who raised the American flag during the battle of February 1945.
Rev. Hotaling's first sermon was delivered at a Manton, Rhode Island church on November 19, 1933. At that time the country was in the depths of the Great Depression. Rev. Hotaling was 17 years old and had promised his father, who was dying of cancer, that he would carry on the work of ministry.
Hotaling, 94, died Sunday 16 May 2010 in a Springfield hospital, 65 years after the iconic battle for the Pacific island. In a 2007 documentary, he talked about the grim task he faced as Marines fell in bitter combat against the dug-in Japanese enemy. Of the 6,821 Americans killed, Hotaling believed he buried about 1,800.
“We would have four Marines with a flag over each grave. And while they were kneeling with the flag, I would stand up and I would give the committal words for each one,” he told the filmmakers.
He said he took up smoking to overcome the stench of decay.
“I did it not as a Protestant, Catholic or a Jew, but as a Marine,” the Baptist minister said. “Every man was buried as a Marine. And so I gave the same committal to each one.”
A Marine Corps honor guard stood by as family members and other veterans paid their respects yesterday at Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Agawam.
“He was a man of God, a man who comforted people and a shepard to his flock,” said son Kerry, 57, of Ludlow. “He brought comfort to the fighting Marines who were on the island.”
Thanks should go to Massachusetts State Trooper Mike Cutone, an Army vet, who was on a prisoner watch at Mercy Hospital when he learned from an old Marine that Hotaling was dying down the hall. Cutone made some calls and saw to it Hotaling was attended at his bedside by Marines in dress blues in his last days, just as he had tended to them in theirs in dirty, bloodstained dungarees.
Rev. E. Gage Hotaling of Cardinal Drive, entered into eternal rest on Sunday, May 16, 2010 in Mercy Medical Center. Born in Wellsville, NY, on January 21, 1916, he was the son of the late Rev. Ira and Albertha (Gage) Hotaling. He grew up in Providence, RI and graduated from Brown University in the class of 1935 and Andover Newton Theological School in 1940. He taught American History while doing graduate work at Brown. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1940 and held pastorates in Palmer, Hyannis, and Needham, MA before coming to Springfield as pastor of the Church in the Acres from 1972 to 1984. Then he served as part-time pastor of the Wales (MA) Baptist Church until 1990 when he retired. He was also a retired Lieutenant Commander in the Chaplain Corps of the United States Naval Reserve. During World War II he was overseas a year with the 4th Marine Division and conducted burial services for 1800 men at the Division Cemetery in Iwo Jima. He was the last surviving Chaplain of the 4th Division at Iwo Jima. He was recalled to active duty in 1952 and served as the Senior Protestant Chaplain at the Recruit Training Command, Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, MD until 1954. From 1975 to 1984 he was the Protestant Chaplain at the Navaland Marine Reserve Training Center at Westover. He was a lifetime member of the 4th Marine Division Association, the Iwo Jima Survivors Association of Connecticut, and the Military Chaplains Association of the U.S.A. He was also a Civil War buff and was Past Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Springfield. He was a member of the Pioneer Valley Stamp Club and a former trustee of Andover Newton Theological School. He was also a fifty year member of Norfolk Masonic Lodge in Needham. He is survived by his wife, Adell (Bauer) Hotaling of seventy years, a son, Kerry G. and his wife Carol Hotaling of Ludlow, two daughters, Pamela and her husband Richard Greaves of Sunapee Hills, NH, Kathryn A. and her husband Guy Pontecorvo of Oregon House, CA, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, William Hotaling in 1970. A graveside service will be Thursday at 2 pm at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1390 Main Street, Agawam. There are no calling hours and Agawam Funeral Home is in charge. A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 2pm at the Church in the Acres, 1383 Wilbraham Road, Springfield with a reception to follow. Memorial contributions may be made to the Church in the Acres, 1383 Wilbraham Rd., Springfield, MA 01119, the First Baptist Church, 760 Main Street, Box 324, Agawam, MA 01101 or the Iwo Jima Memorial Historical Foundation, Box 310516, Newington, CT 06131
05-25-10, 03:42 PM #2
Rest in peace Padre.
Thank you for your Service.
05-25-10, 03:49 PM #3
RIP Rev. Hotaling.
A fellow Rhode Islander.......
05-26-10, 04:21 PM #4
R.I.P., a True American and Patriot! I am glad they could pay him that respect in his final hours, as he did for so many in the past. The things he must of seen.
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