ZERO PLUS 1258 DAY--New York, NY, Saturday, February
is all about Terrorism at its worst. Men and women kill each
other with indiscriminate violence, and, in the aftermath, count
the bodies to claim victory.
the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Marines storming ashore
In some cases, battles
find their way into the pages of history as symbols of the courage
and bravery of the warriors who fight them. Usually, such accolades
are dictated by the victor since the history pages usually belong
to the printing presses of the victorious.
Such is the case of the
battle of Iwo Jima, one of the fiercest ever fought during World
On this day, February
19, 2005, it hallmarks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Marines
storming ashore on the island of Iwo Jima.
Seven thousand of the
50,000 U.S. Marines taking part in the battle died during this
engagement; more than 20,000 Japanese defenders were killed.
Over thirty-six days
of fighting in volcanic ash, U.S. Marines and Japanese soldiers
clashed in bitter hand-to-hand combat as Marines struggled to
raise the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi. Today, a monument
to that flag raising sits in Washington D.C. with the slogan:
"Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue."
to the flag atop Mount Suribachi sits in Washington D.C.
with the above slogan
Medal of Honors were awarded to U.S. troops during the battle;
twenty-two to U.S. Marines and five to U.S. Navy Corpsmen.(see
list below) The Medal of Honor is the highest award of bravery
granted by the United States. It was introduced into Congress
on December 9, 1861 as a bill to honor two-hundred brave navy
personnel. Another bill in 1862 included the army.
The original Medal of
Honor citation reads:
"The Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress
to a member of the navy or military who distinguishes himself
or herself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in the
line of duty. The deed performed must have been one of personal
bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish
the individual from his or her comrades and must have involved
the risk of life. Incontestable proof of the act is necessary
and each recommendation for the award is considered on the
standard of extraordinary merit.
These individuals, regardless of rank,
race or religious belief, are linked by an ideal which springs
from the deepest roots of all that is best in humanity. At
a time of trial and crisis their first thoughts were of others;
their actions exhibited a spirit of self-sacrifice that is
universally recognized and respected. When they could have
done less without blame or dishonor, they gave more, responding
'above and beyond the call of duty.'
U.S. Medal of Honor is a Medal of Vigilance
"The Congressional Medal of Honor
is a symbol of those high ideals. It is this nation's expression
of gratitude and recognition to those individuals whose uncommon
valor sets them apart from other men or women."
The key statement in the Medal of Honor citation is the phrase:
"When they could have done less without blame or
dishonor, they gave more, responding 'above and beyond the call
In many ways, the U.S. Medal of Honor is a Medal of Vigilance.
Vigilance is not about doing the ordinary, but exercising the
extraordinary. It is about self-forgetting, about doing what
is right for the safety and security of others with disregard
for personal safety or security.
Anyone who knows the history of Iwo Jima understands the Japanese
were of equal bravery and conviction.
The 20,000 Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima were under the command
of General Kuribayashi. He had gone to school in the United
States and told his superiors that Japan could not win a war
against the United States because of the nation's unlimited
resources and its will to fight. But General Kuribayashi was
cut from the samurai cloth, and in that tradition, one fought
with honor to the death.
He passed the word to his men that no one was to surrender,
and that the goal was for each Japanese soldier to kill at least
ten Marines before dying, for under the samurai code, there
was no dishonor in death, only in surrender.
General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, descended from the Samurai,
planned and directed the astute defense of the island
Iwo Jima Go
In keeping with this pledge, of the 20,703 recorded dead Japanese
at the end of the battle on March 26, 1945, only 216 had been
taken prisoner. Knowing the resolve of the U.S. to use incredible
forces to acquire the island for its strategic airfields, General
Kuribayashi carved deep caves into the innards of the island,
allowing the Japanese to sustain six days of intense American
artillery shelling prior to the invasion without a scratch.
The underground cave complex was so articulate it included
a major hospital, electricity, and all the elements of subterranean
living. Americans were forced to attack the Japanese in the
caves, using flame throwers and explosive charges to collapse
Little did the warriors know that in six months, on August
6, 1945, a bomb equaling the measure of 20,000 tons of TNT,
one ton for each of the dead Japanese on Iwo Jima, would be
dropped on the city of Hiroshima, ushering the end of World
War II and the launching of ironic state of peace and prosperity
between East and West.
I sit back on a day like this and think not so much about who
won what on that particular day, but rather I reflect upon the
heroism of individuals during death-defying acts such as only
war creates. I am without doubt that the Japanese soldiers had
more than their fair share of soldiers who deserved their "Medal
of Honor," but there was no one left to attest to their
Personally, I fought with a man who earned the highest bravery
award America has to offer. He was not a sword-wielding warrior
who killed countless enemy on his way to rallying the troops.
His sword was a cross of peace, a crucifix to be exact.
Medical of Honor posthumous-recipient
Father Vince Capodanno...
Unarmed with conventional weapons, my dear friend Father Vincent
Capodonno, was a Navy Chaplain who went into the field constantly
with our Marine units and crawled through the thick of battle
administering spiritual aid to the wounded and dying. He would
pray over us daily for our safety and was fearless in regards
to his own life when it came to slaving the wounds of others.
...fought with a cross of peace
He was killed administering aid to wounded Marines. Despite
being repeatedly shot, he continued to drag wounded Marines
to safety until he was finally cut down. A monument to him stands
on Staten Island in New York City, and I visit it on occasion
to remind myself that heroism in battle is not just about the
killing of others, but about the bravery of self-sacrifice for
This is what being a Sentinel of Vigilance is ultimately all
I think about Vigilance as I do about an unarmed warrior such
as Father Capodonno, or any of the Navy medics who won the Medal
of Honor on Iwo Jima, or any of the Japanese corpsmen or their
spiritual advisors who, unarmed, risked life and limb to protect
the wounded and crippled.
The Japanese have their equal to the Medal of Honor. It was
of the Golden Kite . They also offered the
mothers and fathers of those who died for the Emperor a bereavement
War, ultimately, is not about killing. For the student of conflict,
war is about the bravery of those who are willing to die for
Of The Golden Kite is the Japanese equivalent to The Medal
In the quest to understand the importance of Vigilance, a parent
needs simply to ask: "To what length would I go to protect
the safety of my family?"
For the most part, few parents would hesitate to risk life
and limb to save his or her child from harm's way. Dashing into
a burning house to save a child; jumping into the street to
whisk a child away from an oncoming car; facing a bully parent
or adult who threatens a child--all seem natural and normal
responses of a parent to brave any obstacle that threatens one's
But what about the threat of "Inner Terrorism?"
Unfortunately, not many parents think much about the war going
on in a child's mind regarding the child's worth, or his or
her place in the scheme of things. A child's Fears, Intimidations
and Complacencies are usually hidden, much as the Japanese troops
were in Iwo Jima, in deeply dug caves of the human mind.
Parents earn Medals of Honor when they enter the caves
of their chidren's minds
Human emotions tend to be subterranean at best, and only when
trust and confidence reach a certain level do they rise to the
surface and feel safe to sniff the air. Unless a parent understands
that his or her child harbors "fears of invasion"
and thinks back to his or her own childhood when the parent
often hid inside the labyrinth of the mind, fearful and hesitate
to share the deepest of secrets with his or her parents, the
child may be lost to the Beast of Cave Terror.
But, if a parent truly thinks about the role of being a Sentinel
of Vigilance, then sharing with a child his or her own levels
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency serve not as a sign of
weakness, but of a way to communicate and touch the child's
latent Terrorisms. Once the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency
are brought to the surface, the odds are that Courage, Conviction
and Right Actions for future generations will take command.
These last items--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for
future generations--are the Medals of Honor that a parent earns
when he or she fearlessly enters the caves of a child's mind.
There is a great risk the child will push the parent away at
first, only to test the commitment of the parent to stick to
his or her guns.
a Vigilance Medal of Honor
After a while, if a parent is honest with a child from the
inside out, the child will soon share the fears within. Then,
both parent and child have become Vigilant. Both have become
So on Iwo Jima day, there are many lessons to be learned.
One is that we need not go to war with our enemies. We need,
instead, to bridge the gap between the differences.
Vigilance is about standing up to the Beast of Terror so the
Beast knows we are not afraid of him, and that our bravery and
courage stems not from our own need for personal conquest, but
rather flows from the need to protect and insure the safety
of our children and loved ones.
Corporal Charles J. Berry, USMC
Private First Class William R. Caddy, USMCR
Colonel Justice M. Chambers, USMCR
Sergeant Darrell S. Cole, USMCR
Captain Robert H. Dunlap, USMCR
Sergeant Ross F. Gray, USMCR
Sergeant William G. Harrell, USMC
Lieutenant Rufus G. Herring, USNR
Private First Class Douglas T. Jacobson, USMCR
Platoon Sergeant Joseph R. Julian, USMCR
Private First Class James D. LaBelle, USMCR
Second Lieutenant John H. Leims, USMCR
Private First Class Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMCR
First Lieutenant Jack Lummus, USMCR
First Lieutenant Harry L. Martin, USMCR
Captain Joseph J. McCarthy, USMCR
Private George Phillips, USMCR
Pharmacist's Mate First Class Francis J. Pierce, USN
Private First Class Donald J. Ruhl, USMCR
Private Franklin E. Sigler, USMCR
Corporal Tony Stein, USMCR
Pharmacist's Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen, USN
Gunnery Sergeant William G. Walsh, USMCR
Private Wilson D. Watson, USMCR
Corporal Hershel W. Williams, USMCR
Pharmacist's Mate Third Class Jack Williams, USNR
Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Willis, USN
CASUALTY LIST--IWO JIMA
Official Reports: Officers Men
Killed in action 215 4,339
Died of wounds 60 1,271
Missing, presumed dead 3 43
Wounded in action 826 16,446
Combat fatigue casualties 46 2,602
Official Reports: Officers and Men
Killed in action 363
Died of wounds 70
Missing, presumed dead 448
Wounded in action 1,917
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