|~Steven The Marine~
IWO JIMA, Japan (Mar 5, 2004) -- Secretary of the Navy, Gordon R. England, took time to tour the sites of one of the Marine Corps' most horrific yet revered and memorable battles in history, Feb. 27.
"The Secretary of the Navy coming to Iwo Jima was a plus to an already exciting trip. It was awesome getting to experience being on such hallowed ground with him," said Sgt. Alfredo A Trevino, driver, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
While visiting Invasion Beach, both Maj. Ronald K. Dennard, future operations intelligence officer, III MEF, and Warrant Officer Takeru Suwa, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force liaison officer, III MEF, told England about the struggles the opposing forces faced during the epic WWII battle in which 23,573 U. S. Marines and more than 20,000 Japanese forces were either killed or wounded.
England was also told how the Japanese soldiers fought from underground using an intricate system of caves and tunnels. He took the opportunity to tour some of the seemingly never ending tunnels connecting caves which were used as offices while others were set up as living quarters and hospitals.
Along with taking pictures of the beach and Mount Suribachi, England gathered sand from the hallowed ground of the beach, an honored tradition of Marines visiting Iwo Jima.
Standing atop Mount Suribachi, England thanked the Marines and Sailors stationed aboard Okinawa for their service by shaking their hands and giving each individual a personalized Secretary of the Navy coin. Before leaving Suribachi, the Marines presented England with the book "Iwo Jima" which they had all signed.
It wasn't all sightseeing on Suribachi for the Secretary of the Navy however. While there, he re-enlisted Sgt. Steven M. Logan, intelligence clerk, 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, and HM2 Terral B. Brew, administration assistant, 3rd Marine Division.
"The experience was definitely a chance of a lifetime and a great feeling," Logan said. "Not many Marines or Sailors can say they were re-enlisted on top of Mount Suribachi by the Secretary of the Navy. Also, knowing who and what I was representing at such a level was a good feeling in itself. It was definitely an honor to be in that position."
There are few people who can say they've stood at the peak of Mount Suribachi and even less who have done it with the Secretary of the Navy. For 25 Marines and Sailors however, reverently standing above Iwo Jima with The Honorable Mr. Gordon R. England will be a memory they will not be likely to forget.
"Being on Iwo Jima and visiting with the Secretary of the Navy are both events that not many people experience, especially at the same time. Being at that sacred place and getting to experience it with such an important person is something I'll never forget," Trevino said.