Halsey Sailors honor naval and Marine Corps history near Iwo Jima

(Via Ho’okele News)

Boatswain's Mate Seaman Jonathan Valles stands a vigilant watch as he overlooks the waters off the island of Iwo Jima and reflects on the fierce battle that took place 70 years ago. U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Erica Bauer

Lt. j.g. Rochelle Perry

USS Halsey (DDG 97) Public Affairs

NORTHERN MARIANAS —Halsey Sailors recently witnessed the unforgettable sight of the four-mile long island of Iwo Jima, just miles off the bow of the ship.

As Halsey approached, the officer of the deck shared an excerpt from Halsey’s namesake’s biography and chief petty officer (selectees) took turns sharing the historical significance of Iwo Jima with the crew throughout the day.

Chief Fire Controlman (select) Eric J. Wemmer detailed the battle over the 1MC (ship’s general announcing system). “Iwo Jima was strategically important as an air base for fighter escorts supporting long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan,” Wemmer announced.

“The invasion began in February of 1945, when U.S. Navy warships started three days of pre-landing preparations for the Marines as ships and aircraft methodically tried to destroy the island’s defenses,” he said.

The fighting that took place during the 36-day assault on Iwo Jima would be immortalized in the words of Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander, Pacific Fleet/commander in chief, who said, “Among the

Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

For one crew member, seeing the island of Iwo Jima had special meaning and personal significance. Ensign Frances Klimczak recounted a childhood visit to Washington, D.C. where she and her father visited the Iwo Jima Memorial at night.

“The first visit to the Iwo Jima Memorial had a lasting impact on me. Throughout my college career, I always enjoyed reading different books about the battles that took place in the Pacific— particularly Iwo Jima’s,” she recalled.

“In my junior year, I finished the Marine Corps marathon at the base of the Iwo Jima Memorial, and now that I had the opportunity to see the island, it really brought those experiences to life,” Klimczak said.

Others believed that learning about naval history through the Battle of Iwo Jima proved a significant event. Gas Tubine System Technician (electrical) 1st Class Jose Meza explained the importance of understanding past events and battles as an active service member to his peers. “We need to continue to learn about our past, so that we can make a better future for ourselves,” he said.

“By learning about our Navy’s history, we understand what we are fighting for and what we represent.”

“From the standpoint of seeing where our country has been and what it has gone through, it’s easy to see why all branches have come together to defend and protect our way of life,” Wemmer said.

“And that’s what my service is all about: protecting and defending our way of life from those who want to change it,” he said.

USS Halsey (DDG-97) is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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