Battle of Iwo Jima Marked at Eco Park | News, Sports, Jobs

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The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Firing Party at the Iwo Jima 77th Anniversary Ceremony in the Eco Park Veterans Memorial Area. By CJ HADDAD

A pivotal World War II battle that culminated in one of the era’s most iconic images was remembered at Eco Park on Sunday.

The Iwo Jima 77th Anniversary Ceremony was held Sunday under the Veterans Memorial Pavilion and was presented by PFC Paul E. Ison Detachment 60 Marine Corps League. The detachment honors members of the “The Greatest Generation” at Cape Coral Park for 25 years now.

World War II veterans in attendance this year were US Navy veteran CW03 Walter “Wally” L. Dugan; Navy veteran Sgt. Bernie Linhart; and veteran US Navy Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Alfred Lackey. All three have been honored, as have veterans of every conflict since World War II.

“It means so much to us to be able to honor these men and women every year,” said the corporal. Julie Sturgeon, senior vice commander of the Marine Corps League and event manager for the ceremony. “It’s great to be back and have the public join us.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Lt. Gen. Jan C. Huly. Huly, a Marine for nearly four decades and retired in 2006, spoke of the men who raised the flag atop Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured his iconic photo of five US marines and one member of the US Navy. raise the flag of the United States, but not without controversy. Huly said the men’s identities were not documented at the time, as Rosenthal believed another photo he took at the site would be the one used. After an arduous road to find out who was who (some had died days later), the correct identities were discovered.

Huly said he was honored to be able to speak at the ceremony.

“It’s absolutely heartwarming to be part of this event this morning,” Huly said. “It sent chills down my spine to see this dedication and support for those who have gone before and for what they have done. It fills me with vigor.

The Four Mile Cove Ecological Reserve Veterans Memorial, which was built in 1997, features just one of three original one-third scale models, by sculptor Felix de Weldon, of the Marine Corps War Memorial statues Iwo Jima, the other two being in Liberty, Virginia and Parris Island, South Carolina.

The 20ft statue was originally in the Rose Garden in 1965, commissioned by community founders Jack and Leonard Rosen, before being moved to North First Bank in 1980. In 1997 it was moved to its current location alongside new construction. Midpoint Memorial Bridge. It was also restored in 2011.

“I actually got to meet Felix DeWeldon and talk about this monument,” Huly said. “It merges with the spirit and the fiber of the Marine Corps, so to be able to have participated in it and understand what happened, it is really gratifying.

“People should remember the sacrifices of others and take that memory with them into the future and rededicate themselves to the peace and security that allows us to be here today.”

About the Iwo Jima monument at Eco Park, Sturgeon said: “The Marines view the monument as the epitome of everything we stand for. We draw our strength from those who have gone before us. The Battle of Iwo Jima being the bloodiest of WWII – we learn from it. this year’s ceremony was important to really represent that our greatest generation really led our next generation, and so on.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought from February 19 to March 26, 1945, when the Marine Corps and United States Navy finally captured the island of Iwo Jima – after thousands of casualties – from the Japanese Imperial Army. The battle is said to have involved some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles in the Pacific War of World War II. The Battle of Iwo Jima claimed more than 23,000 American casualties, including three of the Marines in Rosenthal’s photo.

Dugan and Linhart, after WWII, re-enlisted and led the next generation of Marines in the Korean War. Dugan is 43 years old in the Marine Corps and also served in Vietnam.

Part of the ceremony included Gold Star Mothers Lee-Ann Forsythe, mother of Marine Lance Corporal Marc Plotts who died in 2019, and Lisa Moletzsky, mother of Coast Guard Petty Officer Jason Moletzsky who died in 2009, placing a wreath in honor of their fallen sons, followed by a gun salute and banging.

Sturgeon said she is grateful that Paul E. Ison Detachment 60 can still honor World War II veterans in their presence.

“Every year we complete this ceremony, and we don’t know if there will be any World War II veterans here next year. We realize that soon it will only be a memorial ceremony,” she says. “We are so grateful to have them here, to honor them and to uplift them while we can.”

The Iwo Jima monument at Eco Park is in need of restoration, and the detachment hopes members of the public and community will come forward and help. Sturgeon said the City of Cape Coral is committed to helping them fund the restoration, but they need engineers who are artists to do the tricky job. Those with information can email: Marines@PfcIson.com.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj


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