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Among the many hours spent in the Pacific last month by the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Ike Skelton and his colleagues got a chance to spend a couple of hours honoring America’s fallen heroes.
Skelton said his group spent about two hours on the island touring the battlegrounds. He said the delegation’s airplane landed on a small air strip and then was greeted by a captain of the Japanese navy.
Skelton said the island is not that big and was amazed by the extensive tunnel system the Japanese used to defend the island. Skelton said he visited Mount Suribachi where the Marines raised the American flag in victory and laid a wreath on a memorial dedicated to the troops. Skelton said he has visited many former battle sites but this one was simply amazing because of what was achieved.
“I think it’s important that we see battles of yesteryear,” Skelton said after his return home last week. “I’m so glad we went there because it gave such an appreciation of the Americans fighting in 1945.”
Skelton said he was especially touched when he walked along the beaches the Marines invaded.
“It was a very moving experience for all of us,” he said. “It makes you ask the question, ‘How in the world did our Marines do it?’ And they did, but they sure took a lot of casualties.
It’s just amazing what they did there,” he added. “I don’t know how they did it. If you stand there and look at the beaches and see that there is no cover for them. I don’t know how they did it but they sure did.”
Skelton said it was hard for his colleagues to not be moved by the experience as well.
“It would have left you in awe as well,” he said.
Photo: Rep. Ike Skelton took a trip to Iwo Jima last month to pay tribute to the Marines who fought and died there. (Submitted photo from House Armed Forces Services Committee)