SOMETHING I’VE NEVER HEARD: Survivors of Iwo Jima talk about what they lived through

These are the images that we associate with the Battle of Iwo Jima.  Recently, I stumbled on to interviews with Japanese survivors of the battle, something I’d never heard before.

Listen to the conditions they lived and fought in, their combat instructions, the way they treated their wounded and how they ultimately turned to barbaric behavior as their food and water ran out and they knew their end was near.

Amazing audio.  You can watch the source videos here:  Video #1,  Video #2,  and Video #3.


Agnes Sure

Agnes Sure enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a nurse in 1938.  Her career took her to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and throughout the Pacific during World War II.

Listen to her fascinating story that took her from rural North Dakota to Pearl Harbor en-route to a twenty-two year career in the Navy and then time in Afghanistan with the World Health Organization.

Agnes passed away in 2015 at the age of 99.  I met her on three occasions, she was truly what makes this nation great.

CROSSROADS: Todd Sanders & Walt Heller — two combat vets, a microphone and a war story

“Inspired by Sebastian Junger’s  call for combat veterans to share their experiences with all Americans, Matt Morgan set out to create an environment where vets would feel comfortable doing just that. He knew that the combat experience wasn’t the kind of thing you presented in a TED Talk, and while books like Redeployed or A Rumor of War have become classics, very few vets truly ever feel their time in uniform was so unique that they should write a memoir.  Yet, every combat vet has a story, and in most cases, if asked, they’d share it with a fellow vet. That’s how Crossroads was born. It’s two vets talking war stories. There just happens to be a mic there. So you can listen in.”

Todd Sanders  {Major USMC (ret)} sits down with Walt Heller, a World War II Marine, who served with the historic Marine Raiders in the Pacific.  Walt fought on Guadalcanal, Guam and Okinawa.   GREAT STUFF!!!!!!CROSSROADS WITH Todd Sanders & Walt Heller — two combat vets, a microphone and some war stories.


Mike McNamara
Mike Musselman
Afghanistan 2010

The boys discuss encounters they’ve had with Iwo Jima veterans throughout their lives as well as stories of that battle.

GUNTALK:  what is “stopping power” and why does Gunner hate the term?  What does the term refer to?

GUNTALK:  why do we go to war with target shooting ammunition?

Iwo Jima: PFC Cal Humphry, USMC

Cal Humphrey
Iwo Jima Veteran

Cal Humphrey tells an incredible story of joining the Marine Corps as a kid from Missouri, meeting and getting to know John Basilone at the “slop chute” in Hawaii as they trained for the invasion of “Island X” which ultimately became Iwo Jima and then the fight for that island.

When asked how he dealt with what he saw on D-Day the former Marine PFC responded “I think everybody dealt with it the same way… probably your mind was all there… you had a few things to do that kept you focused… I can’t explain it, your mind kinda does something… and there wasn’t anybody to shoot at.”

Weapon of choice:  “Napalm.  If they would have dropped napalm all over that island they might have hurt someone.”

Sleeping on Iwo Jima:  “We set our grenades, machineguns… hopefully enough guys would stay awake and would wake everybody else up.”

On the Japanese:  “That guy who set that island up was a genius.  They never did anything foolish, they never showed themselves… you knew they were there because they were killing ya.  Hell, it was like fighting ghosts.”

On dying:  “Everyone thinks they’re going to get killed… I told my guys to shoot at anything and kept your heads down… look in all directions and keep looking forward.”

What makes a good Marine:  “A guy who can keep his common sense, you’re not 10 feet tall and bulletproof.  And everyone in the service is just as good as you are.”

Post-combat mental health:  “Never had any mental problems but I’ll tell you what I did.  I never went into those places, the VFW and Legion.  I send them my money but I’ve never gone in those places.  Don’t think I didn’t dream about it a lot, I did.  I wouldn’t lay there and suffer, I’d get up and read a book.  I got as far away from it as I could.”

Cal Humphrey is a successful businessman and a proud Marine.  His humility and sense of duty are evident all these years later.  On a day that we remember both flag raisings on Mount Suribachi we salute PFC Calvin Humphrey, United States Marine Corps.