|11/7/2012 12:19:00 PM|
Remembering Iwo Jima
A small blue bible sits on the top shelf of a hutch in Ace, and wife Doris Goddard's Cashmere home. Next to the bible sits a few other pieces of memorabilia from the Second World War including pictures and a small compass.
These items are part of the memories Goddard has of his time spent in the service. Memories, that are sometimes hard to share, but important to tell, according to Goddard.
Early in the year of 1944 Goddard was working at the Mountain States Aviation center in Boulder, Colorado, where he gassed and started the planes for pilots. With seven of his brothers already serving in the war, Goddard knew he would soon be drafted.
Two months after turning 18-years-old he was drafted into the Army but was assigned to the Navy. The Navy needed Marines and Goddard was willing to volunteer.
"I had seen some movies and thought well I can be one of them, they are the top dogs. I am glad I did because I didn't want to go in the Navy or the Army. I was full of vim and vigor," Goddard said.
For the next seven weeks Goddard was trained day and night at the San Diego Marine Crops Recruit Training Base. After completing boot camp he was transferred to Camp Pendleton at Ocean Side where he trained as a combat construction engineer. For two months Goddard trained to be a heavy-duty demolition specialist.
It was then time to board the ship and head out into the land of the war.
"We watched the lights go out of San Diego and didn't figure we would see them again," Goddard said. "We got to Pearl Harbor for three more weeks of training and then boarded a convoy."
For 55 days and nights Goddard floated in the ocean on a ship waiting for the campaign on Saipan. After being told they weren't needed the troops docked at Guam for 30 days of training.
On February 21, 1945, Corporal Goddard of the third Marine Division arrived at Iwo Jima by ship to assist with the invasion started by the fifth Marine Division. Goddard said the weather was rainy and cold. The smaller boats tipped over as they headed for shore causing men and equipment to be lost in the water.
The men attacked the beaches off the east side of Mt. Suribachi. The eight-mile-long island was packed with pillboxes, tunnels, and caves designed by two German engineers. As a demolition specialist Goddard carried 25 half-pound blocks of TNT at all times.
"They had been getting this place ready for years," Goddard said. "Carrying the 25 half-pound blocks all the time, one bullet was all it took to set it of. It was a dangerous job that had to be done so I did it.
Once the beaches were clear, Goddard and the troops beneath him went through 11 miles of tunnels clearing land mines and disarming pillboxes. Goddard said after he would explode pillboxes he and his demolition team would crawl inside to see if all the Japanese men were dead. The tunnels were full of Japanese soldiers shooting at American Marines.
Goddard would line up charges to TNT to be blown up and as he pushed down the plunger the explosives would make him jump two feet in the air. In order to get rest one man would sleep in a foxhole while the other would stay up and keep watch. Goddard said he would keep his gun close never knowing what would happen next.
"Me and a friend of mine, they would send us out at night to go back to the beaches to see that no Japs would come up behind us and kill us," Goddard said.
It was a trying time, but Goddard's faith kept him alive, his small blue Bible never leaving his pocket.
After 33 days and nights Goddard's time on Iwo Jima had come to an end and the battle was finished. A worn-out group of men known as the third Marine Division returned to Guam to start their training for the night invasion of Japan. On their way to Japan the night invasion was called off because President Harry Truman ordered the A-bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The men were ordered to go back to Guam.
On Christmas Day, 1945, the third Marines Division made it to Tiesntsin, China. While most men were able to go home, younger men like Goddard had to stay to help board box-cars.
In the summer of 1946 Goddard finally made it home. He said his parents couldn't have been happier to not only have their youngest son home from the war, but also their seven other sons.
Even though Goddard was home, life wasn't the same way he had left it.
"I shook for six years after I got home. It was hard to work all the time, hard to settle down, but I finally did it," Goddard said. "I got myself straightened out but it's hard on you. You still see it and dream about it. There are nightmares at night and it's hard to sleep. I still dream about it every once in awhile."
Goddard has been awarded many medals for his time spent in the war including Asiatic-Pacific, American WWII, China Service, Iwo Jima Bronze Star, Guam Bronze Star, Navy Occupation service, Sharpshooter, and Expert Rifleman Badges.
Currently Goddard goes to middle schools and speaks with students about his time in the service. Even though he said it is hard to talk about at times he wants people to know about what the men at Iwo Jima went through.
"The young kids should think of their country and the men who fought for it. Otherwise we wouldn't have a free country," Goddard said of Veterans Day.
Goddard and his wife Doris moved to Cashmere 35 years ago and still live in the same house on Cottage Avenue with their dog Chi-Chi.
Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or email@example.com.
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