Sins of Omission

What Really Happened on Hotrocks

Little did I know that when I entered junior high I would be confronting red-diaper babies.  These kids were intellectually sophisticated and well educated.  They told me many things that were contrary to my instincts.  Having little knowledge of the subjects they addressed so adroitly, I was at a loss to respond.  One of them stepped on familiar ground, though, when he told me that the flag raising on Iwo Jima was a staged propaganda stunt.  The version of the event he had learned from his parents is still being propagated by leftists.

At 0900 on 19 February 1945, the Marines began hitting the beach on Iwo.  Among them was Ralph Willis, who has written for Chronicles.  The soft volcanic sand caused Sergeant Willis and his fellow jarheads to sink up to their ankles with each step.  From concealed pillboxes and caves on Mt. Suribachi the Japanese poured machine-gun, mortar, and artillery fire into the Marines.

Casualties mounted, but the Marines struggled forward.  By nightfall 30,000 Marines were ashore.  Nearly 600 of them lay dead; another 2,000 had been wounded.  Many of the dead were horribly mangled from artillery and mortar explosions.  Darkness brought no relief.  “The first night on Iwo Jima,” said Robert Sherrod, a correspondent for Time, “can only be described as a nightmare in hell.”

The 28th Marines had been given...

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