All in a days work...

Discussion in 'VMBB General Discussion' started by Mesen, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. Mesen

    Mesen Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    As you all may or may not know I spend a lot of time on Veteran's Day going to various services in my capacity in the Ladies Aux. This year was no exception. While attending a service at University of MO at Rolla we had a few of our vets from the VFW there. One of the guys, an 81 year old Marine, was talking to one of the younger ROTC cadets and the cadet was asking him about a story he had heard.

    Did you really raise the flag at Iwo Jima?
    Could you tell me what happened?
    My friend then related that he had been in the 3rd wave that day fighting for that tiny spot we all have seen immortalized in black and white. After gaining it they had to send back to a ship to get a flag to raise on it. His hand was in the photo that is now so famous.
    As the cadet listened wide eyed he said his neighbor was also on that mission and my friend said he remembered him.
    The cadet walked away filled with awe as my friend struggled to regain his composure. I told him in all the time I had known him I had never heard that story. He said it choked him up to talk about it and so he never mentioned it unless someone asked him about it. His whole outlook on the incident was that it was what they wanted done and so it was all in a day's work for his unit.
    I have yet to figure out what to say about the whole deal. For me to be speechless is rare and to do so for 2 days is remarkable. To think that this and all other great battles in our history all came down to a simple "they told us to do it and so we did." Pardon me but that's just absolutely f***ing amazing.

    see ya
  2. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    And Bree, that was an amazing testimonial on your part of relating the old fellows story---these are the people who must tell us these stories or they will remain forever, untold and unhearlded. When Tom Brokaw, from NBC NEWS, interviewed those people and finally penned his book, THE GREATEST GENERATION, I wrote to him thanking him pretty much as I have done for you here and he wrote me back saying that the pleasure had been all his, having been given the opportunity. Thank you Bree for all your time and effort with what you are doing---the rewards will proabably be what your heart feels like when day is done---surely your cup will run over. Chief

  3. Mesen

    Mesen Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    I can remember most of the stories my dad was allowed to tell about his tours in Viet Nam. He was a courier so he was a lot of places he never was you know?

    At our 2 programs I attended at the elementary schools, I was fortunate enough to meet 6 different WWII vets.

    At our Aux meetings the ladies always press issues of cancer etc, but my big project is the education of our children. I pass out certificates and flag etiquette books to 4th graders and usually have a vet go with me. This year my VFW counterpart joined me in the last school I went to. This was his first time to do this and I think it moved him. The kids asked questions of him from "why do you salute the flag instead of putting your hand on your heart?",to "what was it like on the battlefield?" One class not only recited the Pledge but also sang the national anthem for us. We answered things about burning the flag etc. which were topics in the booklet they received. But the kicker was when we were leaving one of the classes and a child ran after him with a sheet of paper with the simple words "thank you from Corrin" written on it in a childish hand. In the next class I was given a little cord friendship bracelet that the kids are fond of. Needless to say I had a blast.
    I haven't been posting for a while cause I've been pretty busy. Between the dr appts and most all of my projects coming due Nov. 1 and then my Vet's Day activities my husband sees me about 3 or 4 hours a day, mostly at the computer or on the phone. This year I am the district chair of the Youth Activities programs and believe me it is a labor of love. I feel like a bridge between the kids and the veterans and I love it.

    gonna run
    see ya
  4. pickenup

    pickenup Active Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Colorado Rocky Mountains
    Inspiring post..........thanks Bree.
  5. Mesen

    Mesen Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Thanks but I think my friend said it best when he said it's all in a days work.

    see ya
  6. SixTGunr

    SixTGunr New Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Southwest Missouri
    Great thread Bree and thank you for your participations ... ;)

  7. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Owyhee County, Idaho
    Thank you for this post, Bree.
    Teared me right up to know one of those gentleman is still alive.

    If he can handle it, you might think of recording an oral history of his experiences.

    Again, thank you for all you do for veterans in your area. I know from experience it is greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2004
  8. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Good morning all---speaking of the time and the folks involved with Iwo Jima. I ahve told you all many times of my friend and his wife from Sun City--Denny (Frank Densmore) was a 19 year old Marine on Iwo--was wounded severely but survied. There is a story about Denny down in my stories titled LEST WE FORGET. I correspond with a lady from Houston---Dr. Bergmanson's wife, who has an interest in all military, past and present. Early this spring she attened the Iwo Jima survivors reunion at Camp Pendleton---she sent me some pictures that Denny now has---one of the photos was of Ira Hayes Mom and other family members---you recall Ira Hayes was the Pima Indian from Arizona who hepled raise the second flay on Iwo---he survived and come home to surrender to the abuse of drink and drugs. If you recall, another Marine, Lee Marvin played the role of Hayes in the movie. If you would like, I will post the photos of the Hayes family--Denny and I was thinking that the Mom must be near a 100 years old---still looks young and proud---good reason I would say!!! Chief
  9. SouthernMoss

    SouthernMoss *Admin Tech Staff*

    Jan 1, 2003
    SW MS
    Bree, that's a great story. The humbleness of veterans never ceases to touch my heart.

    Chief, I'd love to see your pictures.
  10. Mesen

    Mesen Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Yes Chief please post the pix and I will try to print them off for my friend. As for the recorded history, I have approached a few of the vets about this and they weren't too overjoyed with the idea. I had one gentleman in tears and as much as their stories need to be told I refuse to do anything that will cause them any pain.

    They are all very special to me and as I see it I am the fortunate one to be able to share in their lives in some small way.

    Tell me where I can find the story and I will print it off as well.

    see ya
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2004
  11. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    The old man attempted to mask his strangled sob with
    coughing sounds. All around him
    there were delicate feminine sniffles--tissues dabbed at
    eyes--many age worn and
    liver-spotted hands covered quivering mouths, to keep the
    sounds of weeping, contained.
    The assembled listeners were sitting close enough to one
    another that any attempts to hide
    feelings that morning, would have proved futile--some simply
    wept, unashamedly as they
    listened raptly to the speaker.
    It was Tuesday morning, the 7th of November 2000. It was
    the weekly meeting of the Sun
    City Arizona Lions Club Branch #79. In commemoration of the
    upcoming Veterans Day, the
    guest speaker was asked to give a talk. He had presented
    the same talk to the Greater
    Phoenix Press Club on July 4th--it was highly acclaimed by
    all in attendance. The speaker
    had confided to me, that had he of not been able to deliver
    the talk, his wife Fay was
    prepared to read it for the members of the Press Club. God
    Bless him, he come through like
    a champion--like a Marine--like the former Marine he is--now
    seventy four years old but then
    a young Marine, still in his teens, watching the flag
    raisings on Iwo Jima--.
    The year before when he wrote his story I called a friend
    named Steve Wilson from the
    Arizona Republic and arranged an introduction. All parties
    being mid-westeners, there was
    immediate rapport established--a nice feature article in the
    Republic and later I sent a copy
    of the story to Tom Brokaw of NBC Nightly News. Mr. Brokaw
    answered back personally and
    told us how important those stories about WWII were--he had
    just finished his best selling
    I have read the story more times than once--it was a story
    about people and places I knew
    as a boy--it had an interest for me--Edgewood, Iowa where he
    had graduated in 1943--I
    had been born in Edgewood in 1933. Small farming community
    of less than five hundred
    souls, so I knew many of the same people that he did. When
    I was a high school senior I
    went to live with his in-laws. Fay was their only living
    child--they were my legal guardians
    and in 1951, would sign the papers giving me their
    permission to join the Navy at seventeen.
    Yes, I had read the story many times--yes, there were
    tie-ins--probably though, above all
    else, he is such a good man--a good friend--just a saintly
    His name is Frank Densmore--I’ve never called him that--just
    Denny--the same as his wife Fay
    calls him--they were married in 1945--when I address mail to
    him, seems strange writing Frank
    Densmore. For many years in and around Dixon, Illinois he
    was Doctor Frank--the very skilled
    and competent veterinarian for more than thirty years.
    Denny told me once he had every
    intention of being a farmer as his father had been--until
    the severity of his war wounds
    changed his life and his plans.
    The man standing behind the podium was in control of his
    emotions and most certainly in
    control of the listeners. Breakfast had been served to the
    festive group--good natured
    banterings among friends--business was
    conducted--assignments for fund raisings activities
    completed, prayers offered and the pledge to the colors. I
    suppose there were members in
    the group who had read or been told Denny’s story before,
    however when the Chaplain
    had introduced him, respectful silence prevailed from that
    point on.
    Yes, I had read the story--I had been thrilled by it--there
    were some points about the invasion
    I had actually asked him about. Denny is a humorous
    person--quiet, but humorous. I recall
    him telling our group at breakfast one morning that one time
    when he was at Fay’s parents
    house and in the typical Marine fashion in the messhall
    “pass the f*****g butter”!!!! Yes, his
    Dear Wife Fay documentated the casual event--’mortified’,
    was the word she used. Yes, I
    had read the story, but to have simply read a story and then
    have it told as Denny told it to
    us old folks Tuesday morning, is like nothing I can compare
    it with.
    Even though Fay’s back was to me, I could sense her concern
    as Denny spoke--he grasped
    the podium tightly--his pleasant voice did not seem to be
    anything but
    conversational--perhaps when he began, I noted a tightness
    to his features--a far-away look
    rather than eye contact for different sections of the
    I followed Denny’s narrative much as I recalled reading it
    from his story. Everything seemed
    right-on-the-money--there were a few halting chuckles and
    smiles as he would relate
    something typical military--like to say “yup, been
    there--done that--they treat us all the
    same”. Pangs of sadness began when Denny spoke of
    Fay--parting--unknown future--the
    world at war and love must wait. Blue silver heads of the
    ladies could be seen
    nodding--they knew--they had not been spared and they could
    recall though it was more
    than fifty-five years--the old men listened--every now and
    then a slight nod of the head and
    a look to a nearby friend for assurance of that’s how it
    was. Denny spoke of coming home
    to Iowa on boot leave--the train getting flood-stranded in
    Nebraska for a week of a
    fourteen day foulough--I mused in my mind at that moment
    “and did it rain on your parade
    As Denny spoke, an errie silence fell over the group. It
    was a large room--it was actually a
    clubhouse for an upscale retirement center--very plush and
    nice. There were the sniffles first,
    then the throat clearing, and finally the open sobs as he
    talked. Occasionally other people,
    not of our group, would venture nearby. Some talking and
    laughing but they too seemed to
    sense the foreboding environment and would scurry off.
    Denny recalled that it was Fay’s
    birthday the day they hit the beach on Iwo Jima.
    There is way too much to recall about the events and the
    happenings--not only of the story
    but from Denny’s talk. I lost my composure completely when
    he related to us of coming off
    the landing craft onto the beach at Iwo Jima--the black sand
    being of such a nature that
    an average weight man,would sink into up to the knees--the
    combat marine with his pack,
    ammo, grenades could not function unless he rid himself of
    the cumbersome load. Denny
    said he made that decision--he did not need that gear--all
    he had to do as he progressed
    slowly up though the hail of enemy fire was to replenish
    what he used from the dead
    marines bodies that littered the beach. He was wounded, but
    not seriously, initally. It took
    the Marines four days of bloody fighting and with heavy
    losses to simply reach the base of
    Mt. Surabachi. Denny’s lieutenant would volunteer Densmore
    and two others comprising a
    force of fifty to storm the side of the mount.
    His voice was as strong and unwavering as when he had begun
    to talk. The group was
    faltering however--the pace could not be sustained. More
    nose-blowing and sucking
    snot--watching the flag raising both times--one forgotten,
    the other immortalized for time
    and eternity. Feeling the pride of Denny and also the group
    when he described all the ships
    out in the bay blowing their horns and whistles when they
    spotted the flag being unfurled.
    And the sadness of being reminded that of the six valiant
    wariors who raised Old Glory, that
    only three would survive the hell of battle. Denny spoke
    how few times the enemy was
    actually spotted--how he had been forced to take life, or to
    have forfeited his own. How
    he described the enemy as being as young and frightened as
    he was. How he had
    described one shooting match--much like a turkey shoot,
    ducking, weaving, bobbing--until
    he tired of the match and solved the dilemma with a well
    tossed grenade.
    As Denny spoke, there was a grudging respect for the
    enemy--they were not the invincible
    fighting man sometimes made out to be. They were just
    men--their advantage had been
    the preparation time. Japan had started preparing island
    defenses more than half a
    century earlier--Iwo Jima included--many times employing
    slave labor to construct tunnels
    and fortifications. Their weapons and tactics were inferior
    to the American forces. Hand
    grenades were overcharged with powder causing gross
    ineffectivness or total malfunctions.
    To arm the grenade, the device would have to be struck,
    usually rapped on the helmet.
    The smoke from the armed grenade could easily be
    spotted--one time Denny shot a
    Japanese solider at the exact moment of arming and it proved
    devasting to the Japs
    comrads nearby.
    Denny’s delivery was still strong and vibrant--the listeners
    however were like ‘punch-drunk’
    fighters--old fighters, on the ropes. No longer were the
    sentiments contained--open
    weeping and twisting of kleenex and hankies--unabashed tears
    no longer a random
    spotting but very prevalent in the whole gathering.
    Thirty five days into the battle --- the island of Iwo Jima
    had been declared secured at thirty
    days--the Marine General didn’t want so small an island to
    be labelled a “Campaign” after
    the thirty day limit --.
    This night Denny’s existing group was ordered to the rear
    several hundred yards for rest. So
    very exhausted, they fell to the black sand to sleep--during
    the night, the Japanese
    counter-attacked the sleeping marines. Denny awoke and
    grabbed his weapon at the
    same moment one othe the Japanese grenades detonated near
    his head. Had the small
    projectile been loaded properly, the sharpnel would have
    surely killed him--with an
    overload of powder, the fragments were to small and
    scattered to kill--it only maimed him.
    He fell into the sand and stayed still--the bleeding from
    neck and shoulder wounds were
    mercifully congealed by the loose, pillowing lava sand.
    Next morning a tank was sent to pick up the wounded. Denny
    was evacuated out to a
    hospital ship but it was already full so he went to a
    regular ship of the line where he was
    treated in their sickbay.
    Would it ever end--so much sadness--so many tears. They all
    knew he recovered and life
    went on but they had to be told something good. The 12th of
    April, 1945 Denny arrived in
    Pearl Harbor--on the way to the hospital, he then heard the
    announcment that President
    Roosevelt had just died. More agonized moans-- more
    tears. Finally on May 2nd 1945,
    Dennys’ ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. He
    remembered that date for it was his
    19th birthday. A subdued cheer went up--a few happy souls,
    clapping their hands--a smile
    or two around a face full of tears. Another let down--Denny
    was not able to talk--a piece of
    the grenade sharpnel had cut the nerve to his vocal cord.
    He of course recovered and
    finally on the 12 of July, 1945 was discharged from the
    On the fourth anniversiary of their first date, the 25 of
    August 1945 Fay and Denny were wed.
    Oh, for the sounds of bedlam--the tumult and the
    shouting--to hell with the tears--you can
    cry when you’re happy, the same as when you’re sad--it just
    feels better is all.
    The GI Bill would play a roll in the newlyweds plans and
    Iowa State College would be the
    site. One day in the summer of 45, while hitchhiking to
    enroll in college, church bells ringing
    in this little Iowa town proclaimed the wars end. Denny
    said he cried that day. WILBORN
  12. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Owyhee County, Idaho
    Thanks again, Wilborn.

    What a great tale and it should be read by everyone.
  13. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Hi Bree---thoughts and actions got kind of scattered there but back to the thoughts of Iwo Jima and the vets. I have corresponded for a number of years with Peggy from Houston----she is the lady who took and sent the photos of Ira Hayes mom and family at Camp Pendleton this past spring. Here is a msg from her last evening. The last line Peggy agrees with is your statement here on the post, to wit, ----TOTALLY F-----G AMAZED-----.CHIEF
    I totally agree with that last line--I have always been in absolute awe of
    these men--after seeing Heroes of Iwo Jima tape, narrated by Gene Hackman, I
    could never get those young boys out of my head, and also after reading
    Bradley's book, Flags of our Fathers.

    If you'd like I could send you the tape or DVD but it may be difficult to
    watch. I have bought if for others and they end up watching it 2-3 times.
    My goal is to show it to History classes at the high school a
    parent though it is heartbreaking-
  14. Mesen

    Mesen Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Hey chief

    My friend was contacted by Mr. Bradley while he was writing the book. He also remembered Mr. Bradley's father. As far as the tape I would like it. Pass it on to my friend if he is up to it.

    E-me and I'll send my physical to you.

    See ya
  15. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Hi Bree---don't know your e-mail address but here is mine If and when you msg. me, I will send it a long to Peggy B. over in Houston so she can send the tape and perhaps tell you of her years working with the vets. Chief
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