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Posted Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Morris County Residents Fought and Died on Iwo Jima — Ten Perished

Iconic image of Iwo Jima Flag Raising by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal.

The famous picture taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal actually captured the second flag-raising event of the day. A U.S. flag was first raised atop Suribachi soon after it was captured early in the morning. (National Archives photo)

U.S. Marines invaded the volcanic island of Iwo Jima 75 years ago today, on Feb. 19, 1945, the first day of a 36-day battle, ending March 26, 1945.

Iwo Jima was strategically important as an air base for fighter escorts supporting long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan during World War II.

Because of the distance between mainland Japan and U.S. bases in the Mariana Islands, the capture of Iwo Jima would provide an emergency landing strip for crippled B-29s returning from bombing runs, according to the official Naval History and Heritage Command website. The seizure of Iwo would allow for sea and air blockades, the ability to conduct intensive air bombardment and to destroy the enemy’s air and naval capabilities.

Initial carrier raids against Iwo Jima began in June 1944. Prior to the invasion, the 8-square-mile island would suffer the longest, most intensive shelling of any Pacific island during the war. The 7th Air Force, working out of the Marianas, supplied the B-24 heavy bombers for the campaign, according to the website.

Enemy held out for more than five weeks in fierce combat, defeated when Marines managed to cut the enemy forces in two. Of 20,000 Japanese soldiers, only 1,083 survived to be taken prisoner.

Americans suffered 6,821 Killed in Action and 19,217 wounded in the Battle for Iwo Jima. Approximately 70,000 marines took part in the 36-day fight.

“The Morris County Board of Freeholders honors the memory of our veterans who served, some of whom lost their lives in this horrific battle,” said Freeholder John Krickus, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

To date, ten Morris County Marines are known to have lost their lives at Iwo Jima. This list is compiled by Jan Williams, Cultural and Historic Resources Specialist for the County of Morris. Additions and corrections to this list are very welcome. Please email [email protected].

 

The following Marines are listed by date of loss:

Waldemar F. Piecyk

Dover

United States Marine Corps 25th Regt 4th Marine Div

February 21, 1945

 

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years AgoFrederick Daniel Budd

Chester

United States Marine Corps 5th Engineer BN

February 23, 1945

Purple Heart (posthumous)

 

Edward R. Hornbeck

Denville

United States Marine Corps 27th Marines

February 27, 1945

Hornbeck Road in Denville, New Jersey, is named in his honor

 

Nicholas R. Finellie

Madison

United States Marine Corps 28th Marines

February 28, 1945

Madison Roll of Honor

Military Memorial Pathway Madison brick location I2

 

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years Ago

Original caption: Marines risk sniper file atop Mount Suribachi as they gather to the great attraction of the day — the Marines of the Fifth Marine Division raise the American flag on the enemy mountain fort on Iwo Jima. Photo by Pvt. Bob Campbell, Feb. 23, 1945

Irving Vanness Petry

Hanover

United States Marine Corps 4th Marine Division

March 1, 1945

East Hanover Memorial

 

Pat Anthony Maioran, Jr.

Morristown

United States Marine Corps Reserves 24 Marines – 4th Div

March 2, 1945

 

Dominick Sapio

Dover

United States Marine Corps 4th Marine Division

March 2, 1945

 

Vincent E. Fields

Washington Township

United States Marine Corps 25th Regt 4 DIV

March 6, 1945

Purple Heart (posthumous)

Vincent E. Fields Street in Washington Township is named in his honor.

 

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years Ago

The first wave of U.S. Marines heads for the beach of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. U.S. Navy Photo/National Archives

Francis John Bednar

Boonton

United States Marine Corps 25th Marines 4th Marine Division

March 10, 1945

Boonton Veterans Memorial

 

Andrew Harvey Bladt

Boonton

United States Marine Corps 5th Marines

March 11, 1945

Boonton Veterans Memorial

 

Known Morris County Participants:

 

Louis Patrick Andreorio

Morristown

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

 

Robert M. Aughey

“AA2IM”

Dover

United States Marine Corps Senior Radio Officer 5th Division

Iwo Jima

Attached to the Navajo “Code Talkers”

“Code Talkers”: In WWII, cryptology-or coded messages-offered great problems for the American forces. Many German and Japanese had attended school in the United States, were fluent in English, making English based code breaking easier. The United States Marine Corps received a solution to the problem from a civil engineer named Phillip Johnston. Mr. Johnston, the son of missionaries in Arizona, had grown up in the Navajo Nation, was conversant in the Navajo language; a language not understood outside the community. Further, Navajo had no written alphabet at the time, being strictly oral, this made code breaking impossible. Two hundred Navajo men were recruited into the Marine Corps, their numbers increased to around 400.

The Navajo Code remains the only oral military code never broken.

 

John Patrick Biddiscombe

Morristown

United States Navy U.S.S. Wilkes-Barre CL-103

Iwo Jima

Okinawa

“Jack” was present in Tokyo Bay when the treaty ending the war in the Pacific was signed by the Japanese and General Douglas MacArthur. He carried in his wallet every day a card that was issued to sailors who witnessed this historic event.

 

Frank Edward Bird, Jr.

Netcong

United States Navy LSM 46

Iwo Jima

Trained as a Pharmacist Mate. Taking Marines into Iwo Jima on pontoon boats, under heavy fire and in turbulent waters, Frank heard the shouts “Hey Doc, somebody’s hurt and bleeding bad.” A young Marine was in the water, his leg caught between two pontoons. Bird jumped overboard and, finding that the Marine’s leg could not be extricated, he amputated the crushed leg and fashioned a temporary tourniquet. Under heavy fire, he carried the Marine to shore and saved his life.

 

Jacob Brorein

Whippany

United States Navy U.S.S. Henry A. Wiley DM-29

Okinawa

Iwo Jima

 

Robert Peter Brundage

Dover

United States Marine Corps 5th Marines – 1st Marine Division

May 3, 1945 Okinawa

Dartmouth World War II Memorial Plaque

Peter Brundage Ski Lodge Built by Dartmouth College in 1956 – Dartmouth Skiway-named in his honor

Iwo Jima and Okinawa Memorial Plaque – Special Officer Candidate School – Harlington, Texas

Silver Star (posthumous) citation

“The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant Robert Peter Brundage (MCSN: 0-41761), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as a Platoon Leader attached to Company L, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 3 May 1945. Courageously leading his platoon against a strongly defended, heavily fortified enemy position and observing that one of his scouts had been buried by an artillery shell burst, Second Lieutenant Brundage unhesitatingly braved the intense fire to dig the helpless man out of the debris and carry him to a place of safety. Maneuvering his troops to the top of a hill after personal reconnaissance across the hazardous terrain and finding the new positions untenable when a hail of artillery fire blanketed the area, Second Lieutenant Brundage valiantly remained with his platoon sergeant to hurl grenades at the hostile emplacements, covering the safe withdrawal of his platoon. Although mortally wounded during this action, his aggressive leadership and intrepid fighting spirit served as an inspiration to his men, thereby reflecting great credit upon Second Lieutenant Brundage and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

 

Norbert James Charron

Morris Plains

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

Purple Heart

 

D’Alconzo, Ralph J.

Ralph J. D’Alconzo

Ralph J. D’Alconzo

Morris Plains

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

Purple Heart

 

Robert Franklin Daily

Morristown

United States Marine Corps

 

Robert Morris Dalrymple

Morristown

United States Navy

Iwo Jima

 

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years Ago

U.S. Marines fire shells across the black sand of the Iwo Jima beach, taking aim at inland Japanese positions in 1945. U.S. Coast Guard/National Archives

Charles Edwards Dobbins

Morris Plains

United States Marine Corps

Peleliu

Iwo Jima

Okinawa

New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal

Morris County Distinguished Service Medal

 

Samuel Howard Edwards, Jr.

Boonton Township

United States Coast Guard U.S.S. Bayfield APA-33

Okinawa participant amphibious landings

Iwo Jima participant amphibious landings

 

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years Ago

Original caption from 1945: This general view shows amtracs bogged down in the sands along the beaches of Iwo Jima after American invasion of the Japanese stronghold in 1945 during World War II. In the background, U.S. Marines and Coast Guard beach parties operate communications and command posts and fox hole “hospitals” as assault troops push back the enemy from established beaches on the Volcano Island. (U.S. Coast Guard/AP)

Eugene R. Fennimore

Morris Plains

United States Navy LST

Pacific Theater

Iwo Jima

Morris County Distinguished Service Medal

 

Jacob “Jack” Gartenberg

Parsippany

United States Marine Corps 4th Marine Division

Iwo Jima

Purple Heart

Mr. Gartenberg witnessed Marines take Mount Suribachi and planting an American flag atop the hill for other Marines to see.

Morris County Remembers the Marines' WWII Battle for Iwo Jima 75 Years Ago

 

 Ralph Hinchman Cutler, Jr.

Morristown

United States Navy

Iwo Jima

Lt. JG Cutler recorded orders and observations for the official battle report.

 

Charles M. Johnson

Morristown

United States Marine Corps Reserve 3rd BT 5th MAR DIV

Iwo Jima

Purple Heart

Silver Star

Citation:

“The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Corporal Charles M. Johnson (MCN:364790), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a Squad Leader of Company H, Third Battalion, Twenty-eighth Marines, FIFTH Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, 20 February 1945. Leading the remnants of his squad against well fortified hostile emplacements in open terrain under heavy mortar fire and with no support on the right flank, Corporal Johnson realized that greater firepower was needed and, running back approximately a hundred yards, located two tanks. Leading them to a firing position, he pointed out enemy targets and enabled his platoon to reorganize for further assault on Mount Suribachi. Wounded during this action, he refused medical attention after he rejoined his platoon until other wounded were evacuated from their positions in front of the lines. His leadership, courage and unwavering devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

 

Roland William Johnson

Chatham

United States Coast Guard LST-792

Iwo Jima

Battle of Okinawa participant

The LST-792 received two Battle Stars.

 

Frank J. Jozapaitis, Sr.

Parsippany

United States Navy

Iwo Jima

Mr. Jozapaitis survived WW II, but in his civilian career as a Merchant Marine, he was on board the ship Henry Steinbrenner when it sank May, 1953. His wife received a telegram advising her that her husband was lost.

 

William Stanley Kanouse

Montville

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

 

Joseph Francis Krasco

Jefferson Township

United States Marine Corps 1st BN 24th Marines

Iwo Jima

Purple Heart

 

Edgar A. Mack portrait

Edgar A. Mack

Edgar A. Mack

Morristown

United States Navy U.S.S. Gillespie DD-609

Battle for Biak

Iwo Jima

Okinawa

Battle of Leyte Gulf

Peleliu

The Gillespie served as an escort for The Missouri into Tokyo Bay and was present at the surrender of Japan, in total earning nine battle stars in WWII. Edgar Mack relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1970s.

The U.S.S. Gillespie DD-609 was sunk as target practice in 1972.

News & Record, October 2, 2018, Harry Thetford: “Tin can sailor” recalls World War II

 

Sam Anthony Picconi

Boonton

United States Reserves U.S.S. Newberry APA-158

Iwo Jima

 

portrait James Salerno

James Salerno

James Salerno

Hanover

United States Marine Corp 5th Marines,
3rd Bat, Co. G

Iwo Jima

Bouganville

Guadalcanal

Silver Star (Iwo Jima)

Bronze Star (4)

Purple Heart

Silver Star citation (in part):

“Sergeant Salerno immediately rallied his men to repulse the enemy, and, on the following day, courageously led his platoon in and attack on a strong hostile position composed of many machine gun emplacements cut into solid rock. Although his group suffered severe casualties, Sergeant Salerno ably directed them in attaining their objective for the day and in holding it during the night against repeated enemy counterattacks. By his coolness, initiative, and personal bravery, he upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

 

Anthony John Santella

“Tony”

United States Navy U.S.S. Healy DD-672

Iwo Jima

Battle Star (15)

Distinguished Service Cross

New Jersey Distinguished Service medal

 

Raymond M. Santella

“Ray”

United States Navy

Iwo Jima

 

Paul R. Stirrat, Jr.

Chatham Township

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

 

Guido F. Verbek with binoculars

Guido F. Verbek

Guido F. Verbek

Harding

United States Marine Corps

Kwajalein

Gaudalcanal

Iwo Jima

Career Marine, retiring as a Brigadier General.

 

James J. Walsh, Jr.

Morristown

United States Marine Corps

Iwo Jima

At the age of 18, Jim Walsh wanted to serve his country during World War II, so he joined the Marines. He enlisted in Newark, and after Boot Camp at Paris Island, he was sent to Cherry Hill, N.C. and then from there on to the Pacific. He was involved in the Battle of Iwo Jima in which the United States fought for and captured that island, and he was also part of our war efforts in China.

Morris County Distinguished Service Medal

 

Walter S. Wayne

Morris Plains

United States Marine Corps 5th Marine Division

Iwo Jima participant

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Marine Corps Fifth Division from 1943 to 1946, and fought the entire campaign for the island of Iwo Jima. Recalled to active duty during the Korean War, and served as a drill instructor at the Marines Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va. from 1950 to 1952.

Morris County Distinguished Service Medal

 

George Greeley Wells

“G. Greeley Wells” “Greeley”

Harding

United States Marine Corps 5th Marine Division 28th Marine Regiment 2nd Battalion

Iwo Jima

1st Lt. Wells removed a flag on the U.S.S. Missoula and carried it in his map case. The small Missoula flag was the first one raised on Mt. Suribachi. It was later replaced by a larger one, seen in the iconic photograph.

Mr. Wells settled in Harding and served on the council, the planning commission, mayor and as police commissioner.