I Shook Hands With a Hero Today

Traveling up I-95, I stopped at the Museum of the Marine Corps.


I met an Iwo Jima veteran who was acting as a tour guide in the WWII section. There was no one else in the area and we sat on a bench surrounded by pictures and talked for 15 minutes. He joined the Marine Corps out of South Carolina in 1943 at the age of 17. His first day in combat was on the black sand of Iwo Jima, sent ashore as one of the reinforcements in the center of the beach. He was there for 28 days.

He asked if I was a Marine and I said yes. We found out that his grandson and my son are in the same province in Afghanistan. We spoke of time and change and feeling old. Another group of people came through and he stood to greet them. It was time to go and we parted with a handshake.

Among the Americans who served on Iwo, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
–Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

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6 thoughts on “I Shook Hands With a Hero Today

  1. That must have been a great meeting and an amazing conversation. My Grandfather drove the landing barges up to Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He had 2 shot out from under him. I wish I was wiser when I was younger I would have loved to hear his stories. I have only gotten them 2nd hand as he passed away awhile ago. When he enlisted he was 30 so all the youngsters called him “Papa Joe” as we did growing up. I so wish i could talk to him today. 😦

  2. What an honor? A few years ago I stopped at a rest stop on I-5 south of Seattle. There, in the parking lot, was a RV with the back end painted with the “white cliffs of Dover.” I walked up,knocked, and introduced myself, asking politely about the rear painting. He flew B-17's and she was a British WREN. Delightful couple. I was honored to meet them and wished them much happiness on their sojourn across the USA.

  3. My husband is a former Marine ( no such thing as an ex-Marine )and he finds kinship and comaraderie whenever he meets another of his own.

    After over 20 years out, he still wears his hair high and tight, still tucks his shirt into his pants in that funny fold you guys do. They signal who he is, and what he still believes.

    I read your story to him. He smiled to himself, nodded, and walked away from the computer. He's been there.

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