Flag of My Father
Dedicated to Ross A. Whitney, Jr.
A story about faith, family and valor.
• Dad was baptized at 12
• Honor – right response to
attack on Pearl Harbor
• Courage – tried to join
USMC @ 15 years of age
– Graduated H.S. early
– Father signed waiver
– V12 officer training
– Marine Raider initially*
Letters from Aunt Mearle
* View Internet Dedication www.ww2gyrene.org/photoalbum_32.htm
America wanted Iwo Jima for its
airbases, but it was Japanese soil.
• Eliminate early warning &
intercept by Japanese
• Better bombing by U.S.
– Closer to Tokyo
– Fighter escort
• 2,251 B-29 damaged
bomber landings saved
over 24,700 airmen from
potential death at sea
• Invaded 19 Feb. 1945
• Officially ended 26 March
• Returned to Japan in ‘68
Dad was in the first wave.
• Dad landed Red 1
• Company E 2-27
• 27th Regiment* landed
with about 3,310 men
• 5th Division
• Move to West coast
• D-day objective North
to airfield number 2
• Kitano Point goal
* A “Regiment” is frequently referred to as “Marines” in USMC terminology.
General Tadamichi Kuribayashi
was the genius who made Iwo Jima
the hardest* USMC victory to date.
D-day Progress, Iwo Jima, 19 February, 1945
* Only victory in WWII where Marine casualties were higher than Japanese
The “… finest fighting organization
in the world …”* would win …
Dad in mortar training, top row second from right, Camp Tarawa, Hawaii,
1944. 45% would be casualties on Iwo. Source: The Spearhead, Conner
* General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur on USMC
“Uncommon valor was a common
virtue.” - Admiral Chester Nimitz
• “… unit with outstanding
performance in action ...
• … extraordinary heroism
… teamwork …
• … obedience, sobriety,
neatness and intelligence
• … service …
• … occupation of Japan.”
Presidential Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation for Iwo Jima
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT
ASSAULT TROOPS OF THE FIFTH AMPHIBIOUS CORPS, (REINFORCED)
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in action during the seizure of enemy Japanese-held Iwo Jima,
Volcano Islands, February 19-28 1945. Landing against resistance which rapidly increased in fury
as the Japanese pounded the beaches with artillery, rocket and mortar fire, the assault troops of
the FIFTH Amphibious Corps* inched ahead through shifting black volcanic sands, over heavily
mined terrain, toward a garrison of jagged cliffs barricaded by an interlocking system of caves,
pillboxes, and blockhouses commanding all approaches. Often driven back with terrific losses in
fierce hand-to-hand combat, the Assault Troops repeatedly hurled back the enemy's
counterattacks to regain and hold lost positions, and continued the unrelenting drive to high
ground and Motoyama Airfield No. 1, captured by the end of the second day. By their individual
acts of heroism and their unfailing teamwork, these gallant officers and men fought against their
own battle-fatigue and shock to advance in the face of the enemy's fanatical resistance; they
charged each strongpoint, one by one, blasting out the hidden Japanese troops or sealing them
in; within four days they had occupied the southern part of Motoyama Airfield No. 2;
simultaneously they stormed the steep slopes of Mount Suribachi to raise the United States Flag;
and they seized the strongly defended hills to silence the guns commanding the beaches and
ensure the conquest of Iwo Jima, a vital inner defense of the Japanese Empire."
For the President, John L. Sullivan, Secretary of the Navy
* Assault troops are select battalions of regiments. A “corps” is a military group typically three
divisions or more; in the case of Operation Detachment (Iwo Jima), 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions.
Cost was staggering! Dad with his
fire team was one of less than 500
of the 27th Marines remaining.*
* Source: Iwo Jima, Legacy of Valor by Bill D. Ross, 1985, 1986, Page 325
Good friend Jack Wiedenbeck died on Iwo.
Cost for dad was high.
• Faith – “No God”
• Father - divorce
• Future – lost friends,
education, families, jobs
Source: Aunt Mearle, 1999, Grandmother’s scrap book, 1930s and 40s
I miss you Dad – My Hero!
Dad at Rest Camp after Iwo Jima, Hawaii, 1945
They were indeed “the greatest
generation.“ – Tom Brokaw
Ralph Simoneau was D company
2-27 and survived with Dad.
Ralph invited me to the 58th 5th Marine Division Association Reunion in Raleigh
William Wick was F-2-27 with “Devil
Dog” son passing on warrior spirits.
F Co. landed in hell and was
consumed 25 days later.
F Company D-Day 19 Feb.*
* About 225 – 270 men per company, 4 co. plus HQ & Services per battalion (Bn)
"F" Company returned to
bivouac area near Bn CP at
0740. "D" Company
completed mopping up
mission and returned to
bivouac area near Bn CP at
1130. Remaining personnel
of "E" and "F" Company were
reorganized into one
company under command of
Lt. Tilghman. One man was
left in "F" Company to
preserve its identity.
D+25 16 March 2-27
Daily Report from Iwo
Marine Raider and Paratrooper*
are still “Gung Ho!”
* Raider and Paratrooper units were disbanded in 1944 after their missions
became unnecessary. Men like my father transferred into the 5th Division.
Jim Reed was E-2-23, 4th Marine
Division on Iwo and still very active.
Clark Middle School, Frisco, Texas
Jim was in the first wave too.
Remains of “E” 4 March
Waiting for Replacements
Jim Reed’s Report
• 23rd Marines
• Company E, 2nd Bn
• D-day objective was to
capture airfield number two
• Only 15 left in Co. E after
10 days of fighting
• Jim wounded 16 days later
• Returned ’08, walked 1 hour
to the place it had taken 26
days to reach in March ‘45.
Dad died with bitterness toward the
Japanese, but Jim forgave.
Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 12 March 2008
Suribachi (すり鉢 or 擂鉢) means grinding-bowl and so it was for 2-28 - 89%
casualties by the end of the operation. Source: Flags of Our Fathers, Page 246
God bless the United States and her
Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen.
Source: Grandmother’s scrap book, 1930s and 40s
“Bear up bravely under the Cross.”
- Whitney Coat of Arms Moto