From the Editor: Those Who Served

Surveyor At Iwo Jima 5th Division CemeteryChad and Linda Erickson are back, this time with an article that was the side-result of research they did into Linda’s father who was a decorated Marine at Iwo Jima. I have a personal connection because my father was a Boatswain’s Mate Seabee in the South Pacific. Like most soldiers of that war, neither Corporal Spletter nor my dad spoke much about their experiences, so we find ourselves doing research to find out as much as possible about their valiant service. One of my regrets is that I didn’t ask my dad more questions. I don’t even know which islands my dad was on, but he did mention being on one where runways were being built. I suspect some of our readers might have similar regrets.

I often wonder why the Silent Generation was so silent. Chad thinks one of the main reasons they did not want to talk about the war is that they knew that they would break down and sob. That and guilt that they lived, and their buddies did not. Much is written today about PTSD, and surely these guys had it, but unlike today when the ailment is applied to a whole host of problems, these guys and those who have experienced combat in more recent wars, confronted a life or death, kill or be killed situation. Now, we have veterans who are homeless and have trouble getting on with their lives the way our fathers did. I wonder why that is?

According to Chad, “In a companion photo we can see the plumb bob swaying under the tripod, as though the tripod had just been lifted, carried and set down. Our take is that the Seabee is a little more well-fed than the two Marines. The Marines are almost gaunt, indicating that they are front line troops to whom supplies seldom reach. Though there are no shoulder patches, the ages indicate that these are probably NCOs, visiting the new cemetery.” Behind them are some of the 7,000 crosses from the battle, with Mt. Suribachi in the background. With an additional 19,000 wounded, Iwo Jima was one of the costliest battles of the war.

About the Author

Marc Cheves, PS

Marc Cheves is editor emeritus of the magazine. He has been a surveyor since 1963 and is licensed in five states. Since 1995 he has been a surveying magazine editor.