Wednesday, February 19, 2020

75 Years Later Iwo Jima Marine Corps Most Famous Battle

75 Years ago this week Donald H. Dufault, the son of my great aunt Alice (Duty) Dufault, the divorced mother's only child, landed on the Pacific Island known as Iwo Jima. He would be killed in action two weeks later on March 5, 1945.

Pfc. Dufault joined the Marine Corps on October 3, 1940. Upon completion of Recruit Training shipped out to Sitka Alaska and would spend the next four years chasing the Japanese across the Pacific.  

First to the Aleutians, then two invasions of the Marshall Islands, later on to the invasion of Saipan where he was wounded and would request to rejoin his unit - Company B 1st Battalion 23rd Marines 4th Marine Division less than 3 weeks later. 

Members of the 1st Battalion 23rd Marines on Yellow Beach 1 Mt. Suribachi in the background

On February 19, 1945 Pfc. Dufault would be one of 800 1st Battalion Marines landing on Yellow Beach. United States committed forces numbered 110,000 vs Japan with 21,000. But with the Japanese Imperial Army having a strategic advantage of the high ground and being well dug in with pillbox and cave complex the invasion would cost 6,821 US servicemen their lives. 

By the time the US Ensign was raised by Sailors and Marines on Mount Sirbachi the Japanese force would be reduced to 216 prisoners and 3,000 who escaped the battle and went into hiding. They would continue to fight for weeks after the invasion became an occupation and were eventually captured, killed or succumbed to their wounds. 

Pfc. Dufault was killed by a sniper's bullet from one of the 3000 Japanese who continued to fight to the end.  

In 1945 your notification wasn't a visit from an Officer and Navy Chaplin and later a consolatory phone call from the president, rather a straightforward telegram, just slightly more personal than today's email, that was hand delivered by a courier or left on your door should the courier find that you were not at home.

The Western Union Telegram Delivered On March 27, 1945
(In 1945 next of kin notification that it wasn't right away or the next day, in fact as the above telegram shows notification was nearly a month after my Great Aunt's son was killed in action.)

The local paper learned of the news and published this report.

Two weeks later she received this letter from her son:

Oddly enough the letter is dated 3 days after Pfc. Dufault was killed on Iwo Jima. Perhaps in the "fog of war" the days ran together or the date he was killed was simply recorded in error.

The following letter was written by a fellow Marine 3 months later and it took nearly a month to reach Donald's mother. Notice the "Naval Censor" stamp in the lower left corner of the envelope below. The letter details how Pfc. Dufault was killed by a Japanese sniper.

October 14, 1948, more than three years after his death the letter below was received along with a Presidential Unit Citation bar with two stars and the Asiatic - Pacific Campaign Medal. This was added to her collection of two Purple Hearts and other service medals.

The citation (below) maybe the most concise account of the five week battle (19 February – 26 March 1945) to take the volcanic island of Iwo Jima at a cost of 26,040 total casualties, in all 6,821 US Sailors and Marines were killed and 19,217 wounded.

The above description of the events is epic!

On January 31, 1949 Pfc. Donald Dufault's remains where returned to his home town of Marion Illinois, nearly 4 years after his death.

Two years later Post 980 was dedicated in his honor.

Dedication of American Legion Post #980 Chicago
Pfc. Donald H Dufault became a Marine on October 3, 1940 and served in Alaska, Aleutian Islands, before participating in two invasions of the Marshall Islands, being wounded during the taking the island of Saipan (Now part of the Mariana Islands a US Territory) in June of 1944 and finally the successful capture by US Marines of Iwo Jima in February of 1945. 

The certificate signed by President Roosevelt reads in part: 

He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die 
that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. 

Freedom lives and through it, he lives -

In a way that humbles the undertakings of most men 

Cedar's take: There are times when I tire of hearing "thank you for your service" you see, saluting the national ensign and enjoying a 3 day leave nearly every weekend for 8 years ain't shit. Spending the final four years of your life chasing an enemy across the Pacific from island to island because you are a Marine that's service, that's a hero who deserves your thank you!


Anonymous said...

Semper Fidelis! Let's remember all the fallen that allows our flag to proudly fly. For those who choose to desecrate it or choose to kneel during the national anthem... Please feel free to wrap yourself in it before burning.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Cedar, somewhere on your site you listed the names of all your family members who have served in the military. If I remember the list is not only long but goes back pretty far.

Doesn't the current liberal bull shit just drive you crazy? Not just the flag knee Kaepernick idiots or Trump hating socialists but the general hate of the United States. How does someone like former Prince Harry say he'd never live in the US because of Trump. Does he not know that without the USA he'd not only be a commoner but likely be speaking German? Or worse Russian?

God Bless your family for their service sacrifice and patriotism.

Anonymous said...

The Judge said,"Military or jail". I m so glad I picked The Marine Corps. Both grandfathers were immigrants and they both fought in WW2. Earned their right to be here and these assholes talk about they have no way out. My oldest son is now serving and doing his part.The youngest will be next. The "Work is for Suckers" generation can eat shit.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the idea of someone telling anyone to do something they dont like. The Safe Place is over in the corner with your mommy.