Price for Peace (2002) Script

-When people think about war, they quite often think about D-Day as being Normandy and Utah Beach because those are the ones that got the most play in the media.

But there were at least 40 in the Pacific, some of them just as bad, if not worse, than the casualties on D-Day in Normandy.

STEPHEN E. AMBROSE : At Pearl Harbor, on the morning of December 7, it was Sunday morning.

An awful lot of the men had had liberty the night before.

Some of them were up and having breakfast.

Some of them were getting ready to go to church, and many of them were sleeping it off.

The zeroes coming off of the Japanese carriers began to appear in Hawaii, and they found us completely unprepared.

-We just couldn't believe what was happening.

Everything happened so fast.

-I was getting madder by the minute because they were knocking not only our ships out, but they were knocking out a major part of our air power.

-We were looking towards the USS Arizona.

And there was this tremendous explosion.

I'd never seen anything like it in my life.

And it was just one big ball of fire.

KEN TAYLOR : was on fire.

Everything looked like it was exploding.

I knew what I was supposed to do, and it was to knock this plane down in front of me and to get on his tail and shoot him down.

And I managed to do that.

-You see all of that.

Then, this hate starts to come in.

And dammit, this is war.

This is war.

-We lost 2,400 people at Pearl Harbor, December the 7th, 1941.

-Everybody wanted revenge, total revenge.

I know I did.

-I wanted to destroy the whole nation of Japan.

I hated them.

Everybody hated them.

-They made the American people so mad that there was never going to be any compromise in this war.

We're going for unconditional surrender.

-The American people and their righteous might will win through to an absolute victory.

-We just knew that we were the enemy.

We were considered the enemy because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

I didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was.

My father was born on the 4th of July, and he made sure we all put the flag out and everything.

We were brought up to be Americans.

-There was a feeling in Pearl Harbor that the Japanese Americans living in Hawaii had been giving information to the Japanese forces in Tokyo.

So we're afraid they're going to do this in the West coast.

-But there had been not a single incident of sabotage or spying.

None of that happened.

-The Japanese Americans from the west coast were interned into 10 internment camps across the United States.

-We were told that we could only bring what we could carry, and so most of our things we had to leave behind.

-They were rounded up and put in to camps that they were guarded in.

-When we arrived and saw the buildings, it was very, very depressing.

-How would you like to be taken away without your things?

How would you like to know that people are watching you all the time?

How would you like to know that your letters are being read, that you can't communicate with people?

My brother used to put it in this way.

It's like you've been raped by somebody you trusted, and so you can't talk about it.

And so it was your country that did this to you, and you couldn't talk about it for years and years and years.

NARRATOR : Young Japanese Americans volunteered for the armed services of the United States even as their families were being held in these camps.

-My utmost thought was, they've stripped me of my citizenship, which was most valuable to me.

And therefore, when they gave me a chance to join the military, that was my liberation.

That restored my citizenship.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

-The little town that I was in, they went en masse to sign up.

So a lot of the guys that used to hang around the filling stations weren't hanging around the filling stations anymore.

They were in the service.

-There was no problem of getting volunteers.

Everybody was willing to go.

They had recruiting lines that were two and three blocks long.

-All of the services were taking in thousands of recruits a day.

-Most people who volunteered were-- they could choose Navy, Marines, Army.

-Well, I liked the Army.

I didn't feel like a sailor, didn't feel like a flyer.

Even Marines, they didn't appeal to me.

Too much PR.

-The Marines had great public relations, and every time somebody said, well, are you in the Pacific?

I said, yeah.

Oh, Marine?





Oh, were you in the Pacific?

Yeah, damn right I was in the Pacific.

-I went into the United States Navy.

It was segregated.

The Navy was segregated.

At that time, blacks could only be steward's mates.

You waited on the officers and cleaned their rooms, things of that nature.

-I cannot think of anybody that did not have just one objective, let's pay them back for this little job and get it over with.

-There wasn't any question about what we had to do.

We had seen signs in recent months anyway saying Uncle Sam needs you.

-And now, all of a sudden, America was ranked 16th in the world in the size of its armed forces, right behind Romania.

Now, we were in the war.

And within a couple of years, the American armed forces were number one in the world.

-All of the services were going full tilt.

The Coast Guard had expanded tremendously because they had to guard the whole coast of the United States, and the rivers as well.

The Navy, of course, had to worry about two wars.

-Well, the war in Europe had been going on for several years.

But things were happening in the Pacific world with the Japanese saying that they didn't have any resources, and they have to enlarge their empire in order to gain the resources necessary to support their people.

-They were already deeply involved in a war in China that was a big drain on the Japanese Army.

Korea was already a colony.

They were taking on the whole of the Pacific world.

-Who's going to command the Pacific was a big question for the Americans.

They decided to divide it.

Douglas MacArthur would command in the southwest Pacific.

Admiral Chester Nimitz would be in command in the central Pacific.

And the Americans were now beginning to build.

We had carriers being built at the shipyards.

We had started a draft that brought millions of young men into the armed forces.

They had to be trained, of course, and they had to be equipped.

And American was gearing up for war.

-Over the training periods, we developed a lot of camaraderie with the people that we worked directly with.

-Well, the training first of all put tremendous emphasis on your physical conditioning.

-Well, it was hard physically.

And they just drilled you constantly.

And here's people when you say rear march, rear march, you've got one going one way and another one going another way.

-They took us to firing ranges, of course.

They took us to tank training.

They even gave us tank training.

-We were taught how to use every weapon that the infantry has in its force, everything from machine guns, mortars, rifles, carbines, pistols.

-We of course in the hospital course school learned the basic physiology and anatomy of the body.

We learned the number of bones and the way they were located in relation to the rest of the bones, and the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone, and all that type of thing, you know.

-Our forces were adequately trained.

There's no question about that in my mind.

They were physically well conditioned.

They knew how to use their weapons, team work had been built into them very, very well.

So I think they were very well trained troops.

-That training did prepare me to do professionally my job.

But it didn't train me to do the biggest job, that is not be afraid.

And I was scared to death, I'll tell you.

-Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was the top admiral in the Japanese Navy responsible for laying out the strategy of how to win the war.

STEPHEN E. AMBROSE : What Yamamoto had thought would happen, the Americans will be disheartened, and they will negotiate.

That all came crashing down as the American people went to work.

-The whole country went to war.

They built red cross bandages, sorted button.

-You wanted to be a part of the war effort because they had attacked us.

-The force at home turned out ships, planes, and bullets in record numbers.

-Women, this is the first time women wholesalely had come out of their homes and gone to work.

-My wife was a welder.

And she worked in the bottom of the ship 40 feet down.

-We built 741 ships, and we built once every four days.

We sent them out to sea.

We felt like we were building the ships to bring our husbands home in.

We wanted to go to work.

We wanted to help to win the war.

-One of the most important things that happened is the building of the landing craft.

You could run it right on in to the beach, drop that ramp.

A platoon of fighting men come out, and they're right there on the beach, firing immediately when they get off that Higgins boat, as it was called.

-They made nothing except war stuff.

Whatever you had, that's it.

And you didn't get any more until the war was over.

-You can't get butter.

You can't get sugar.

It was very difficult getting any new shoes.

-The tires were rationed.

Gas was rationed.

You were only allowed so much gas a month.

And we all worked with it.

-Everybody was sacrificing to make this military that could undertake an offensive in both theaters, and we did.

-The Philippines was a complete loss to us because this was one of the chain of islands that was key to us in the Pacific.

-We lost the Philippines.

They overran Bataan, and then they took Corregidor, and then the Bataan Death March.

We lost Guam.

Everything was lost.

And then came the Dolittle raid that bombed Tokyo.

-Jimmy Dolittle was appointed to head the raid, and he was definitely the man for it.

We took off at about 8 o'clock.

We arrived at the target about 12:30.

We had stopped in right on top of the water, and then pulled up to our bombing altitude of 1,800 feet.

And if you're dropping bombs at 1,800 feet, you just can't miss, period.

It was the first raid on Japan, and it did give the United States a shot in the arm.

-It didn't do much damage to the Japanese.

It wasn't a big operation.

But it lifted spirits across America.

-Perhaps the biggest decision in the Pacific was island hopping.

-We weren't strong enough yet to be able to go directly to Japan and leave all these islands out in the Pacific.

So the islands in the Pacific, we island hopped just as you would cross a stream.

And there's a whole bunch of rocks.

And you jump from rock to rock to rock to get to the other side.

-And eventually, get close enough to Japan to launch our aircraft to bomb Japan.

-It was a strategic decision that guided the whole war in the Pacific and was one of the best decisions that were made.

-When we were aboard ship, there was a lot of hours where there's not much to do.

-It was a long time on the ship.

You'd lay out on the deck in the day time, and we had some fun and games.

-It mostly was boredom.

You got up, ate, worked, and went to bed.

-The problems of keeping troops that are aboard ship and don't have room to run, so you run in place.

Then, you give them physical exercises.

-We didn't know where we were going until about maybe two weeks out at sea.

-After we got out, out at sea, they start to brief us as to what our mission was and where we were going.

-People had all kinds of thoughts about what might happen, actually.

There was a great deal of praying.

A lot of people soul searching, and the anticipation of battle never having been in it before and wondering exactly what they were getting into.

-In order to make an invasion work, the Navy's job is to go in before the invasion and soften up the beach.

You destroy everything, all of the enemy on that beach.

And the planes are bombing, and everybody is doing the best they can to make sure there's not a soldier alive of the enemy when we get there.

-The night before D-Day, we were very nervous.

There was a lot of bombardment.

And I looked around and I said, are you scared?

You're damn right I'm scared.

And I said, who the hell isn't scared?

He said, if you're not scared, you're not human.

-I remember waking up at dawn, and all of a sudden, this is for real.

-About 5 o'clock in the morning after little sleep if any, we had charcoal, and we had steak and eggs.

-That's the only time ever in all the times I spent overseas that I got steak and eggs for breakfast.

-And it was a very eerie experience of having breakfast in civilized fashion, then realizing that day we were going to shore.

We might all be killed.

-We began at about 6:00 AM getting ready for the assault.

-Well, we clambered down these cargo nets.

And I was nervous with all this gear.

-One thing they did not tell us, by the way, that boat can come up under you very quickly.

-Coming down, you've got to hit that just right, or you're going to knock your knees out, you know?

-In fact, we had one boy break a leg.

-We started rendevousing out in the ocean area probably about four miles off of the beach.

-The circles broke and formed parallel lines.

And we were moving in.

And D-Day in the H-hour was there with us.

-There were over 100 D-Days in the Pacific, on big islands, on small islands.

But always, the objective was to begin the process of taking that island.

-As we approached the beach, I could feel a real tenseness in everyone aboard that craft.

It was complete quiet.

HAL NUERNBERG : While you're going towards the beach, you're doing an awful lot of praying.

And some of the guys got a little sick.

I watched the guys around me.

They were scared.

I was scared.

I don't think we had any reason to be otherwise.

-You don't know what's waiting for you.

They could wait and hang out on the beach and cut loose on you.

They could start firing right away.

Anything like that, you don't know.

-When we were getting close to the beach, then you begin to feel my god, this is real.

And then, as soon as they dropped that ramp, and you're exposed, you feel like you're the nakedest person in the world.

And you knew darn well that they're going to start the shooting, which they do.

-Very soon after that, all hell broke loose on the island.

-There was a tremendous volume of fire coming from all those defensive positions.

-And I had never seen anything like this in my life, absolute hell.

-There were about 600, 800 ships out here, and I was on one of them.

We took landing craft and came into the reef, and on the other side of the reef, we changed from the landing craft to the amphibious tractors.

And the reason for that was in here, in the lagoon as you can see, the water is so shallow we couldn't get landing craft in here.

-So we went over the side in about three feet of water.

I had 100 pounds on my back.

A flame thrower, a bed roll, all of my ammunition, and I can remember distinctly sinking into the sand a good four or five inches as I crossed the beach.

-It was a bloody mess out on that beach, people getting blown all to pieces.

-The beach was full of bodies, just full of bodies.

-Chaos, and absolutely it looked like the biggest junkyard in the world.


There's bombs being dropped.

There's shells being fired.

-It was chaos.

There were just hundreds of people moving.

And the people behind us-- and one reason we had to get off the beach was because there were people behind us just coming, just one right after the other, group after group.

-Boats from the prior landing turned upside down.

There were bodies floating out into the water.

-I had never seen a dead person even in a funeral.

And as I hit the beach, I saw bodies and body parts all over the beach.

-We started to go up the sand there.

And we'd go up two feet, and fall back one.

And we were just laying on the beach.

And there were bodies all over.

-Guys were dying.

Every way you could see, somebody was dying.

-We went across the beach as quickly as we could because the beach was being raked with 88s, machine guns.

And of course, there was a lot of sniper fire as well.

-You've only got one way to deal with it.

You're looking for a place to get down and get some cover for your body by jumping into a hole or you dig one.

And that's hard because that sand floats back in as soon as you shovel it.

It's coming back in.

-About this time, a young marine, I'd estimate maybe 17 years old, he was running by.

And a sniper shot him in the head right above his left eye.

He was dead.

And I looked at him, and he had blood running down.


then, it slipped out.

I didn't know this kid.

And I still remember him today.

-Once we got in combat, I don't believe any of us had any difficulty in doing what we had to do.

I certainly didn't.

-The only thing that we wanted to see the Japanese was dead.

-Oh, it was nice to see the first Jap I was going to kill.

That's what I went there for.

-It was very easy to shoot a Jap, believe me.

-I don't care if it had been a woman, child, baby.

I could shoot.

-I wanted to destroy the whole nation of Japan.

-We were immediately up against these reinforced block house bunkers that were reinforced concrete.

They were extremely formidable defensive positions.

-Now, this was for an anti-tank, anti-boat 47 millimeter.

It's obviously been hit quite a bit.

-Against this kind of block house and other locations, flame thrower was our most effective weapon.

The flame thrower not only burned them up, but if it didn't, it sucked all the oxygen out, and they died instantly of suffocation.

There wasn't any way to breathe.

-However, it was used directly on the enemy as well at times because they would run out of there, partly on fire, and if you had any more left, you certainly would use the charge.

It was a very brutal way to go, believe me.

-Well, this looked altogether different than it is now.

And most everything was scorched earth.

We used so much napalm and burnt the grass and the trees.

-Did you volunteer to be a flame thrower?

-Yes, yes, that's the only way you could be a flame thrower.

Crazy, but that's the only way.


-I was 22 years old, yes.

-So it was not a comfortable position for them, and water was in great demand, but they had very little of it.

And a number of the defenders died of thirst.

-The engineers would come up a seal a cave, put a big charge on top, and shoot it down and cause it to completely close off.

And if there's anybody in there, they were trapped in there.

-The branch of the American military service I was in is called MIS, Military Intelligence Service.

-The main thing was to translate military orders or diaries or what have you and interrogate prisoners.

-They were very careful not to put us in harm's way because we could have been shot by our own men.

Some people have asked me how we felt fighting the Japanese.

I'm not sure what I would have done if I had come face to face with my uncle, whom I loved dearly.

But to me, I was not fighting the Japanese people.

I was fighting the Japanese military government which started the war.

-During the assault, the tanks were able to roam at will and not really be in any danger unless a Jap got some kind of a charge on back.

-The Japanese would do anything to destroy a tank, including putting the demolitions on their body and crawling under the tank.

-They had a lot of man and booby traps set up, Bouncing Bettys.

So you had to watch where you were stepping.

-The wires on a booby trap, you can't see it, looks just like a piece of grass.

And when you kick it, it pulls a pin.

Boom, you have a casualty or two.

-The wounds themselves were horrid.

People blown all to pieces, arms and legs all over the place.

-My specialty in the Pacific was being a corpsman to the Marines who became wounded.

-The corpsmen were the Navy individuals who were trained to apply first aid when needed to the wounded.

-They were the greatest bunch of guys you ever saw in your life.

I mean, you talk about bravery-- if it hadn't been for those guys, a lot of us wouldn't have even come back.

-They were like a priest or a minister.

They consoled you.

Yeah, I know it hurts, but oh damn, just think if it was worse.

-But that's part of our duty, to try to keep the guys as alive as possible for as long as possible and get them back as quick as possible.

-I was called in by my lieutenant commander one day.

She said from 20 forward naval bases in the United States, they're choosing 24 girls, one from each base, to form the Navy flight nurses.

And would you consider if you would be chosen?

And I said, I have to call my mother!

-We were to fly on the airplane and bring back the badly wounded passengers.

-I had no idea what I was getting myself into, really.

I had no idea that I was going to see what I saw.

-It was quite an eye opener because the ground was shaking from bombs that were going off.

-It was just a mess.

All I can say is you saw blood, and the odor.

There was a smell of war, really.

-And when I looked over and I saw the boys on the ground, I figured, oh, remind all these side effects here.

Pay attention to these boys.

And I couldn't wait to get them out of there because I wanted to get out of there, too.

-We were always talking to them, holding their hand.

-Some had their eyes closed because they did have a lot of pain.

Some were just keeping eyes closed and praying they were going to get out of there.

There was a patient from Iwo Jima I had on my airplane.

He asked me if I would take a small bottle of sand from Iwo Jima.

And I said, oh, you keep them.

He said, no.

He said, I'm not going to make it.

He said, and I want you to tell the people never forget what we did here and what we went through.

And he didn't make it.

-I was checking this one boy.

And I saw tears coming down his face.

I said, am I hurting you?

And he said, no.

He said, I'm just thinking about all the people I killed.

That's what he said to me.

-I wrote my mother a letter practically every day.

I just tell her the every day things that I did.

I took a shower today.

We did this, or we did that, and so forth and so on.

They had to walk a long ways to get to the mailbox.

And I didn't want them to go to the mailbox and nothing, they didn't get anything.

-Everybody was glad for the mail to arrive, but yet there was a fear, afraid you would get the telegram.

My sister received a telegram that her husband was killed.

And they had a little boy ride a bicycle and bring the telegram to her.

And my sister just passed out from shock.

But when we got a letter that they were well and they were still alive, what a great joy.

-Back home you kept up with the war through the newsreels that preceded the main feature at the local theater.

ANNOUNCER : --the first offensive drive to hurl the Jap enemy from conquered lands.

-We would go to the Sunday movies to see what was going on overseas.

I'd always look to see if I could find him on the battlefield.

-And you saw cartoons, and the racial hatred against the Japanese had no bounds to it.


-The big buck teeth and the slant eyes were a common feature of all these propaganda films.

And the American people were propagandized into hating everything that was Japanese.

-You were enjoying a crumb.

-The Japanese told the Okinawans that we would rape and murder every one of them.

So they committed mass suicide off the cliffs.

-Just as in Saipan, the Japanese civilians threw themselves off of a cliff.

Women took their infants and threw them into the sea.

-The Okinawans fared a helluva lot worse from the Japanese, really, than they did from us.

Because we weren't out to rape and murder.

All we were out to do was to get the Japanese soldiers that were there.

-I think the Japanese soldier was mean, treacherous, tricky, and according to American standards, he wasn't a real good person.

He might have been a tough soldiers, but he did things Americans wouldn't do at first.

But we learned to.

We learned to be just as tricky and dirty as he was.

-Many Japanese were shot running away from us because we didn't mind shooting them in the back, either.

At that point in time, it was dog-eat-dog.

-The Japanese relied, as their number one weapon, the willingness of the men in the armed forces in Japan.

Every one of them was willing to give up his life for the emperor.

-A suicide plane hit my gun turret and exploded, killing

10 of the 20.

We had shot his wing off.

We shot his tail off.

They were just like a bomb coming.

My buddy was trapped in the third gun burning to death.

And I tried to get him out.

Then, there was an explosion.

I fell backward and fell over into the fire, and Dick came right in and got me.

-To the Americans, a kamikaze was unbelievable.

These guys were willing to give up their lives.

Now, the Americans were, too, and many did.

The American soldiers would go out on patrols that were pretty clearly suicidal.

But they weren't anything remotely like those kamikaze attacks.

-The conditions on the islands varied because the islands were so varied.

Some of them jungley, and some of them almost desert like.

With all these mosquitoes coming down, bringing malaria, with floods--

I mean, the rain came, and it came, and it came.

-We didn't get no bath or anything like that, but the monsoon rains were sometimes a blessing.

We could do a little bathing and catch water in the helmet and so on.

-Where we were was very inhospitable because of the vines, the brush, and stuff like that.

But all the coconut trees were planted row on row on row.

That was very, very pretty to see that.

-Bob Hope and the USO would come into these islands.



-What it meant to the men was they do remember us back in the states.

They weren't forgotten.

-The Marines had war dogs.

Those war dogs, every one of them was a hero.

I wouldn't want to go back into combat again if I didn't have one of those dogs.

-I had dogs.

They were family dogs.

They didn't come from kennels.

They didn't have any police training.

They were just from the average family that wanted to help the war effort by enlisting their dog into the Marine Corps.

-They have senses that we don't possess.

They can hear things, smell things that we never knew existed.

-You watched that dog when he was working.

You could watch his tail.

You could watch his head.

And he'd pick up the scent.

And he'd go after them.

-The dogs and the men were together all of the time, and particularly when in combat, they were together 24 hours a day.

-They ate together.

He would give him a drink out of his canteen.

They ate out of the same mess kit.

-I've seen men when their dogs got killed, they'd take the bloody body of the dog in their arms and rock them back and forth, and tears would come in their eyes.

They'd just lost not only a dear friend, but perhaps somebody they considered had saved their lives.

-The Japanese were very crafty about crawling around, and crawling in the foxholes and slitting your throat at night.

-Just the idea that somebody's crawling around out there that can do this to you, you know, you don't get much rest.

-You could hear a guy, oh, I'm hit.

Oh, I'm hit.

And you couldn't do nothing.

-We had a password on the island.

And it was usually a word that the Japanese could not pronounce properly.

-Like "clear weather" or "clear day." And that would be the password for the night.

Every night, we had a different password.

-One of them may try to trick us because they'd learn a little English.

And he said, how'd you make out, Joe?

And of course, our Sergeant knew that that wasn't one of us, and so he mowed him down with a Tommy gun.

-Come daylight, just very earliest glimmer of daylight, the island was littered with the dead from the day before with a hand sticking up here and a foot sticking up there, and one that hit me the most that I remember was a friend of mine who was buried.

Most of his face was sticking up, and then his body was buried, and the shoulder was sticking up.

And with the waves coming in, he was right at water's edge, and an arm moving with the water like this.

And I remember thinking, he's beckoning me to join him in death.

-I found one of my Sergeants lying there with a leg so badly wounded I thought he'd lose it.

And he said to, captain, please help me.

And I said, Len, I'll give you a shot of morphine, then I've got to go.

Because I'd been trained, as all Marine officers were trained, that when you have a single casualty like that, you give him quick attention and call for somebody else to come, and then you go.

Because after all, I had another 220 Marines to worry about.

-Oh my god, here I am, I'm facing Japs three or four feet away.

And I can't fire anymore.

But as I'm looking down in my rifle and seeing about trying to unjam this thing, I'm seeing grenades to my right.

So I dove for them and covered them with my body, shoving the grenades into volcanic ash to try to save the lives of the three buddies that are with me.

And it blew me over on my back.

My guys left me.

They thought I was dead.

Another outfit moving up was covering me.

They picked me up, and they took me on back to this place where a lot of others were lying down on cots wounded.

Later, I woke up when they were moving to a big hospital ship headed back to Honolulu.

-My radio man was a 6' 2" cowboy, Avery.

And we went out on patrol.

A Japanese shell landed right next to us.

And it cut Avery's leg off at the groin.

He did not lose consciousness.

There was no way to put a tourniquet on it.

And cradled his own leg.

And he kept saying to me, do something.

I sat with him until he died.

-You soon learn that you're going to lose your buddies.

The question was which ones and when, and when's it going to be your turn?

-When it was your buddy, you would sit down and cry.

It really was tough on you.

You hated to have to go off and leave his body.

-If your buddy gets killed, you've got to have a detachment there and to say, well, it's just a thing in the war.

I really had nothing to do with it.

Because if you let it eat your guts out, then you're endangering your own life.

You've got to be practical about it.

-We went there to kill Japanese, and that's what we were doing.

And they were trying to kill us.

And people were getting blown to pieces on the beach, I mean evaporating some of the bodies.

They were direct hits.

What are you going to do about that?

Are you going to lie down on the beach and cry about it?

Back out, and get out in the water, swim back to the boat?

You came there to fight.

-It's either kill or be killed.

And there's no joke about it.

There's no use in trying to dress it up.

-Didn't worry about who he was or how many kids he had, who his grand daddy was.

He was just somebody to blow somebody and save myself.

-When I pulled the trigger, it was a target.

It was afterwards that the impact of what I'd done, taken a life that--

that things started coming back to me.

And then, I thought about them.

-The hate in you begins to dissipate because you realize you've taken somebody's life.

And it affects you.

-I had to talk to somebody.

And I talked to our sergeant.

And he said, well, you get used to it after a while.

That was an answer, I guess.

You get used to it.

I never did, never did get used to it.

-Fourth of July, we had killed 350.

I had three men wounded.

And that is 350 dead bodies.

And when the sun comes up, the gas in the body expands.

And the bodies are covered with white maggots and black flies, and then you've got your cold ration and try to eat with the flies coming in and going in your mouth.

And then, as the gas expanded, it would pass over the dead vocal cords.

And you'd hear the sounds of these dead bodies making weird groans as the gas went over the cords.

-We used to go to the caves with one of those bull horns with a speaker on it.

-We went out there to see whether we might talk any of the Japanese into surrendering.

-I don't think any of us had any hope we could get them out alive.

But we thought we'd try.

What've we got to lose?

Come on out, don't be afraid.

Take off your uniform.

-And we were saying, you fought honorably.

We will take good care of you and your men.

-People that got killed, we would come back later and pick up the remains.

And that would be transferred to the rear area where a temporary cemetery was set up.

-Before we loaded ship, they had a big ceremony at the cemetery.

It was probably the most heart wrenching time of all.

We all had an opportunity to go down and to view all the crosses, pick out our buddies.

Then, a chaplain gave a service there.

And it was the most solemn scene of the whole operation.

-We went aboard ship and were told that it would be a beautiful meal for all of us.

-The bakers had baked a fresh loaf of bread the night we got there.

And another buddy of mine went over and got this wonderful loaf of bread, you know, hot out of the oven.

And I never had anything as good in my life as just a plain old loaf of white bread.

But I'll tell you, it was good.

-That's when we learned that President Roosevelt had died.

-On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt died.

For most of the fighting men, he was the only president they had ever known.

Now, Harry S Truman, the vice president, became their leader.

And the ending of this war fell to him.

-So they took us way back to our base in Hawaii on the island of Hawaii, and we reformed there and were getting ready for the next operation, which would have been landing on Japan mainland.

-Well, the plan was to land a large number of Marine and Army divisions on the west coast of Kyushu, Japan on 1 November, 1945.

-There were going to be millions of people involved in this because we knew the Japanese, they'd used their women, the children, anybody to kill us.

-They were digging out foxholes all across Japan.

They had brought their best troops back into Japan to defend the home island, and it was going to be just this horrendous battle.

-It never happened.

And of course the reason it never happened is because of the atomic bomb.

-The culmination of the American production process in the Second World War was the atomic bomb, which the Americans had started working on in 1942 and had completed by the summer of 1945.

And President Truman ordered it used.

-Where we now, of course, is the bomb pits where the atomic weapons were loaded on the B-29s.

-This is where Paul Tibbets took off in the B-29 that he named Enola Gay for the bomb at Hiroshima.

And it came up out of the pit right here, and then Tibbets flew that mission.

-I put out of my mind anything that had to do with morality, religion, or anything like that.

War is hell.

And I wanted to get the killing over with as fast as I could.

The airplane was quiet.

Normally, you'd fly with a crew.

They were telling dirty jokes and all of that.

There was none of that this time.

There was dead silence because they were all determined, just as I was, to get that bomb on the target for what good we thought it might do.

And I thought the first day that I heard there was that weapon that if we could do, we'd certainly help the war effort along.

I could see over the instrument panel beyond it was Hiroshima.

I didn't see it.

All I saw was the sky light up in front of me, a beautiful pink and red color.

And in the end, there were three and a half square miles of Hiroshima devastated in one blow.

That's how terrific it was.

Rest of the trip going back, everybody was relaxed.

Tension was over with.

I told Bob Lewis, my co-pilot, I said, you take it over.

Let autopilot fly it.

I'm going to get a couple hours of sleep, and that's what I did.

-All of a sudden, the report came in about the bomb over Hiroshima.

And we just sat there in stunned silence.

-And of course, we cheered and had our little, you know, rejoicing.

-But the next day, we were right training just like we were going to keep going because nobody had said it's over.

-There was a feeling in Japan.

Well, the Americans dropped this atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

But we're going to continue.

Hiroshima is not a military target.

The Americans did not weaken our military strength with the bomb on Hiroshima.

We're going to continue to fight on.

And Truman decided, we're going to go ahead with a second bomb.

-And at that point, the Japanese military just had to give up.

We can't do anything against atomic bombs.

We can meet Marines at the beaches.

We've got an air force left that can go out there with the kamikazes and sink a lot of American ships.

We can force them to pay a terribly high price if they want to invade Japan.

But what the hell were they going to do about an atomic bomb?

-And many people have debated the use of that bomb over the years.

But I would say that probably it was the best decision ever made because we would have lost many, many, many men, over a million probably would have been lost, in trying to invade Japan.

-The treachery that Japan had thrown upon us, I had no pity and still don't have no pity for the Japanese.

-Tell them if they had never been at Pearl Harbor, there had never been a Hiroshima and a Nagasaki.

So we did that to save lives, not only of Americans, but of millions of Japanese.

-I think it was a mistake.

I think it could have been demonstrated elsewhere without harming people.

-A demonstration bombing with the atomic bomb would have been rather futile because I don't believe the nature of the Japanese would have yielded to anything less than a holocaust that we put on Japan.

-I've been asked time and again, don't you feel terrible about killing all those people?

No, I don't feel terrible.

I'm sorry that they were there and had to be killed.

But what had to be done was bigger than those people, bigger than me.

-It ended the war, and it brought us home-- what was left of us, yeah.

-The surrender took place in Tokyo Harbor on the battleship Missouri.

-Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that god will preserve it always.

-The end of the war was like a load taken off your chest that everything was going to be OK now.

Won the war, everything's going to be OK.

-VJ Day, as it was called, Victory over Japan Day, when they surrendered, led to the biggest celebration America has every known.

Crowds were just filling the skyscrapers and throwing out confetti.

-And I was trusting that my husband would be one of them that would get to come home.

And what a great day when he did come in.

-We pulled into San Diego Harbor.

There was a huge, huge sign that said "Welcome Home," and for the next seven days, they fed us like kings.

-I had been injured.

And when I came home, my mom, you know, she grabbed me and was feeling me all over to see if I had any missing parts.

And she was so happy that I was in one piece.

-My dad met me at the train station.

And I was as brown as a brown paper sack.

And I saw my dad there.

And he was looking around trying to find me amongst all the other passengers.

And I walked up to him and looked him in the eye.

And he looked around me, you know?

I said, he don't know me.

He just doesn't know me.

So I walked around him and walked up to him behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.

I said, it's me.

He-- he grabbed me and gave me a big hug.

-My brother came back from the service.

He wanted to see his parents, of course.

So he came to the internment camp.

And it was after hours, and he could only touch my mother through the barbed wire fence.

-My father and mother remained in camp until the end of the war.

They didn't know where to go, what to do.

They heard that a few who tried to get back had very bad reception.

Their homes were burned down, or they were chased out.

-I received the Navy Cross in San Francisco, California.

That night, they came and took the-- took the document from me because I was black.

And black steward's mates weren't supposed to get Navy Crosses.

-The Medal of Honor is the highest decoration awarded by the United States government.

The President of the United States is the one that decorated me at the White House.

I stepped forward to, Jack Lucas.

I had Truman hang that medal around my neck.

And he says, I'd rather have this medal than be President of the United States.

I said, sir, I'll swap you.

He just laughed.

-So it was great to be in the United States of America and to be welcomed and for them to tell us job well done.

-Japan immediately became a part of the American anti-communist alliance.

And the Americans went into Japan with Douglas MacArthur as the head of the occupation to bring about a democracy in Japan, to re-shape Japan.

-Some of these hills you're looking at here haven't changed, have they?

-The hills didn't change, but there was no--

-No trees or--

-There was no property.

There was nothing.

-Nothing left, no.

-The importance of going back to Okinawa with my family was to show them where their uncle was killed and to show them where I fought.

-This is Kunishi Ridge off to the right.

-Well, there's a road that goes across the valley there.

You can drive up on the edge of the ridge.

-My brother was fighting on Kunishi Ridge.

He was only 200 yards from me where he was killed.

-Standing at Kunishi Ridge, I can envision in my mind the battles because I saw the newsreels.

And I can see my husband, a young man, fighting through the war and knowing that at any moment, he could have been killed.

What courageous young men we had to fight and risk their own life.

-We went to the memorial gardens with the granite stones that have everyone's name written there that died on Okinawa, or off Okinawa.

And my children took a rubbing on the stones of the name of my brother.

To be able to have my children there and for us as a family to experience that was the most rewarding part of the whole trip to Okinawa.

-A dead soldier is a basic hero, I think.

A man that died for his country, he's the one who's a real hero.

-It's a great sacrifice to personally give his life.

And for those young men and women who had so much to look forward to, and now are gone.

I just hope that people never forget what they did for freedom.

-That's the part that really hurts me is the young guys that never had a chance at life.

-On December 7 of 1991, a group of the Japanese pilots from various different ships, and I think there was about 24 of them, came.

And then, I met Mr. Abi.

And we were kind of drawn to one another for some unknown reason.

-He was a bomber pilot off of the aircraft carrier the Akaki.

And he bombed our ship.

So we were saying our last goodbyes at the hotel.

And he says, Richard-san, please do me this special favor.

He said, would you please buy two roses, one rose for me and one for you?

Would you please go out to the Arizona and play "Taps" for me?

And I've been doing that every month since 1991.

And he keeps replenishing me with money.

-What you'll find if you talk to old veterans, they don't talk about their war experiences to their families.

When these fellows get together on reunions of this kind, they exchange war stories with each other confident that both parties understand what they're talking about.

-Oh, my goodness!

I finally kissed a nurse.

I kissed a nurse, first time!

-I go to the Marine conventions every few years to stay in touch with old friends.

And we like to keep those friendships going because we did have three years at least together under very dire circumstances.

-Well, the ones who returned to Iwo Jima will experience a great emotional when they get down to an area that they recognize on the island.

It really is an emotional experience to stand there and think about what you were doing when you were there.

And it immediately brings on thoughts about your friends that you lost.

So it's a matter of revisiting a difficult period in my life and expressing appreciation for the fact that he had to do it again.


That's the way you do it.

-I am a walking advertisement for the Corps, aren't I?

-Oh, you are the Marine Corps poster child here.

-I've been wanting to go back to Iwo Jima for an awful long time.

I decided that I had to go now if I was ever going.

I'm looking forward to it sort of like looking forward to going to the dentist.

I know it's something I must do, but I'm not really all that eager to have that tooth pulled.

I know it's going to be painful.

One, two, three.

-Even three or four years from now, you'll be proud that you were a Marine.

You will be proud if you're not already.

-Yes, sir.

-In particular, one of the things I want to see is the top of Suribachi, where the flag was raised.

Down in there is where I spent most of my first day, just right down there within 20 to 30 yards of the beach, of the water's edge.

I wanted to see the beach.

And I understand that the beaches haven't changed.

-For over 50 years, I've had nightmares that I just can't describe.

And I'm hoping to put these ghosts to rest.



-There they go.

-Well, one of things I'm going back to Iwo Jima for is to take my wife back there and let her see where I fought as a very young man for the freedom of this country.

-Come on, Louis, let's get the picture of this over here.

Does anybody want to get in the picture?

Come on over here.

I want to have my picture made with you.

You already look gung ho and ready to go to war.

-Yes, sir.

-Now, I think maybe I'll be able to spend a year or two, all of that sleep, without these nightmares.

Before I die, I can die a rested old man.

-I kiss you on the beach where I landed 56 years ago.


-I was 17, too.



-The loss that comes from those things, you can be sure changes your attitude about things forever.

And those of us who are lucky enough to be here today know that we're the luckiest of the lucky.

-Those of us who stood on this island in 1945 find it almost unbelievable that we stand here together once again to honor our fallen comrades.

We continue to ask for the comfort of their souls.

We seek relief for the sadness of their families.

May they now and forever more rest in peace.

-Right, face.

Right flank ammunition, load.

Ready, aim, fire.

Ready, aim, fire.

Ready, aim, fire.