Going In, Passing Away, Adding On.

Time to blow some of the dust off the “post” button on this website (we’ve been wearing out the “new page” function lately, more on which below) for a really quite exciting update: there is, or at least STRONGLY appears to be, some footage of 1/24 on Iwo Jima.

Color footage. Of the landing and initial advance inland. With what looks like a platoon from Company A front and center.

I check the dashboard on the site every now and again to see where new visitors are coming from. Usually it’s search engines or Facebook links, but every now and again some post from this site will wind up on a forum somewhere, and the link drives traffic back over here. This is how I found out about the footage, and I’m glad I followed up because otherwise I would never have located it.

An eagle-eyed marine aficionado went through the extensive Critical Past archives searching for footage of the Fourth Marine Division on Iwo. They did a pretty compelling job of arguing for the identities of several men in the footage (I won’t steal their thunder too much: check out the original post for some solid scholarship). One of the UNIS marks they picked out was on the helmet of a marine in a landing craft. It’s the distinctive 412 of Company A, which was already enough to grab my full attention. But the poster pointed out that the man’s name was visible on the helmet as well–and after a check of the muster rolls, concluded that it was likely Corporal Leonard “Lenny” Yush of A/1/24.

I must say I’m inclined to agree. Check out the footage and see for yourself. (Corporal Yush turns to give the camera a worried look at the 1:01 mark.)

Linked from YouTube; video hosted by Critical Past.

(Corporal Yush was wounded in action five days after this footage was taken, earning his second Purple Heart.)

A brief list of other updates:

  • Slowly but surely, roster pages are being completed with basic details. In the majority of cases, biographies are still in the “Coming Soon” phase, as it takes months to complete a single roster with even a minimum of information. Currently, the pages for Corpsmen, Charlie Company, and Baker Company are done. Able Company is in progress, then Dog and Headquarters. Update: Dog and Headquarters Companies are now complete. Check them out, and as always let me know if you spot errors or broken links!
  • We’ve expanded our photograph collection over the past few months, as well–most notably with a tome I’ve taken to calling the “Mother Of All Red Books.” Researchers are familiar with the regimental “Red Book” albums (like the one belonging to Philip Fagan), but this one volume spans the entire Fourth Marine Division as it existed in late 1943. Perhaps 90% of the division’s personnel, from the commanding general to the greenest private, are all pictured here, which is pretty impressive. (It’s believed that this particular example belonged to Major General James Underhill, the assistant division commander, as his name appears on the inner cover.) Pictures of the MOARB will be forthcoming.
  • Also, through the generosity of Edwin and Janelle Handley, we have the personal photo collection of Lieutenant William T. Freeman. “Big Bill” was a platoon leader (and later company commander) with the Fourth Motor Transport Battalion, and while the photos don’t have much direct connection to 1/24, they’re a great source of information (and a few chuckles) about life in a support company. Check out the gallery here.
  • Speaking of support troops, we also have a new addition to the Letters section, courtesy of Maria Dean. Her father, Athur W. Nichols, served with Weapons/24th Marines and was commissioned from the ranks (a “mustang”) following Iwo Jima. Nichols was assigned as a platoon leader to Baker Company in the final months of the war. His fascinating letter, written to a fellow veteran in 1983, is well worth reading.
  • The personal effects of Jim Chavers, a former machine gunner with Company A and veteran of Iwo Jima, were recently sold in an online auction. Yours truly was outbid, alas, but the winner is a notable collector who already owns several 1/24 items, so we’re assured the items will be well preserved and appreciated. Nick has promised to send along some photos to share.

As is becoming tradition, there’ll be a Taps post for each of these gentlemen at the end of the year. For now, here’s a great portrait of Jim Jackson, as provided by relative Blake Jackson.

a_jackson portrait

  • On the other side of the coin, a number of surviving veterans have kindly offered their reminiscences in the past few months. Herb Darmstardter, Richard Vrana and Ray Cable have all been in touch, and I owe responses to a few others. Tommy Lynchard and his wife Beverly have been very helpful, and I understand that Walter Bailey and Vernon Rigdon are out there somewhere. Keep an eye on their biography pages, and on the battle narratives, for updates gleaned from their memories.
  • There are many upsides to a new master’s degree in military history , but also a few downsides–mostly that it makes everything written and researched BEFORE said degree seem clumsy and ill-informed. Doing some overhauls of the longer pages on the site, and hopefully will get back into battle narratives in the new year.

Still to come: a letter of mysterious provenance, but believed to be written by 1Lt. William Masterson, the Bn-4 for Second Battalion, 25th Marines. The author gives a vivid depiction of life with the Fourth Marine Division on Saipan and Tinian–and settles a few false assumptions that a supply officer’s role was always safe in the rear. UPDATE: Read the letter here.


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