Friday, August 10, 2007

Iwo Jima Veteran, a real American Hero

Taylor got the true blessing of being able to sit down and talk to an Iwo Jima veteran, Mr. Floyd Holes.

I can't even begin to say enough wonderful things about this man and his wife, Millie, who opened up their home for us to come in and visit and shared some home made lemonade and let Taylor hear some stories of Iwo Jima.

Floyd was a communicator for the 28th Marines 5th Division and as we asked questions, he never once hesitated or faltered in just what he had or wanted to say. It was as if things happened yesterday and he was very clear. He has some very strong feelings and he shared those along with some of his personal experiences.

He was on the island for 33 hard days of fighting, he came in on the 9th wave of the attack. He got a bit quiet when he talked about coming in on the beach, and Taylor and I understood perfectly why and at that time, asked no questions.....none needed to be asked for that.

Floyd was standing right there as they raised the first flag and was still there doing his work when they came up and took it down and raised the infamous 2nd flag. He is actually standing just outside of the photo. It is felt that he is the last living Marine that was standing right there for both flag raisings. He kind of laughed when he talked about the flag raisings. He said the 1st one didn't cause much of a stir, but once the 2nd one went up, the Japanese put up a small protest as he called it. He got a bit quiet when he said, we then of course put a stop to that.

He could recall people's names without hesitation, those he stood by, those he talked to, those he was friends with, those that were lost. He spoke with true conviction on the taking of Mt. Suribachi in saying that had the Marines not taken control of that, the atomic bomb would not have gone off when it did and that the Japanese would have come in and attacked America and we would have been under Japanese rule. He talked a bit about the atomic bomb and its devastation. Floyd looked right at Taylor and told her that while the atomic bomb killed thousands and thousands, it saved probably millions.

He felt that the communicators had a very important job and a very important role in how things played out. Behind every decision that was made by a General, it was up to a communicator to make sure that the decision got sent out in code properly and to where it needed to go. He laughed about how they had to do things back then compared to now. He just shook his head when he spoke of the vast difference in how communication is now from them.

He spoke of his brothers and his mother and how hard it had to be for her. All 3 of them were off in different battles and there was no way to get word back how there is today. One brother fought at Guadalcanal, the other brother fought with McArthur and he at Iwo Jima. Floyd spoke so lovingly of his brothers and of his Marine comrades. He had a few things to say about the people they had to fight and how feelings were back then and how they are still there today.

He sat down and painstakingly wrote a book about his time at Iwo and what happened before and after, it is called The Iwo Jima Communicators and he gave Taylor a copy of it and signed it. In it, there are many many pictures. Sitting there looking through the pictures with him almost seemed surreal. Here we were sitting with one of our nations greatest, listening AND looking at our American history.

There was on moment that I think will always stand out in my head. Taylor and Floyd were sitting right next to each other and she asked him how long he was in the Marines for. He told her proudly 3 1/2 years, they were hard fighting times, but ones he would never give up. She then asked him what his rank was. Before he answered, he asked what hers was and when she said GySgt, he sat up tall and got this huge smile on his face. He then told her he was a PFC up until the day he got out, and that day he finally got his promotion. He and Taylor looked at each other and just laughed. It was something I guess that only those 2 understood, and it was a moment that was just between those 2. She leaned into him and he put his arm around her and gave her a good squeeze, both of them smiling. To see someone so young and someone so old, but they had an understanding between them and it was just a really neat and precious moment.

When he got back, he got sick and had TB, he believes from a prisoner of war. He spent a whole year in the hospital. He then taught the communication code and said still to this day, he can be somewhere and he will hear a certain sound or tone, and his fingers literally start to move as if he were doing code again.

He went back there for the 5oth anniversary and talked about how that was.

Other things were talked about and Taylor got a real history lesson, one that would never be taught nor learned in a classroom, but most of all she gained a new precious friend. We are making plans to go out for dinner.

Amazingly enough, we found out that yet another Iwo veteran lives maybe 20 minutes from us and we have been in contact with him and he is very excited about meeting Taylor. Floyd was a communicator and a few times had to be infantry and fight, but I believe that our next meeting with the other veteran will be a different type of story. But, I will tell about that after we meet.

I have pictures of Taylor and Floyd and will get them on her and in her photobucket once I can figure out what upgrading my Kodak software did. It has gone through and erased almost all of my pictures on the computer and did a funky set up thing that even the Kodak people can't really help with. So, once I can get that worked out I will get the pictures up.

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