Veteran Corpsmen

This Veteran’s Day, it seems appropriate to shine the spotlight on those who went to war with 1/24 to save lives more than take them.

Many of 1/24's corpsmen were decorated for valor after Iwo Jima. Walter Dodd, Robert Haynes, Robert Ervin, Curly Klauss, and Carl Zaar were awarded the Bronze Star. For Dodd and Klauss, it was the second such honor.

Carol Yenne provided the photo above, part of a larger collection that belonged to her father, Pharmacist’s Mate Vermoine “Curly” Klauss. Curly is on the left in the front row; beside him is Carl L. Zaar. Standing are Walter Dodd, Robert Haynes, and Richard Ervin.

All five of these corpsmen have just received the Bronze Star medal for Iwo Jima. Haynes, Ervin, and Zaar have their first ones, while Dodd and Klauss have new gold star devices “in lieu of a second Bronze Star Medal.”

Early in the battle, Curly Klauss “led a stretcher party to [a] wounded man, revived him, and administered first aid” while under mortar and sniper fire. “His courageous leadership saved the life of this man.”

On 4 March, Dodd performed a similar feat, directing an evacuation “when enemy fire had thwarted all attempts to rescue a wounded marine… without further injury to the wounded man or to the stretcher bearers.”

“Heavy casualties kept [Haynes] busy,” reported combat correspondent Dan Levin. “On one occasion he risked heavy enemy fire to drag a wounded rifleman to safety.” Zaar and Ervin likely performed similar feats.

Lieutenant (j.g.) Richards Lyon, who helped write the citations for the corpsmen, said one man’s volunteering to take the place of a less-experienced sailor on the front line “was to me the ultimate bravery, based on the love that permeated our team of Navy Marines.” Though trained to carry weapons and fight when necessary, compassion motivated a corpsman’s courage.

Curly Klauss passed away in 2004. Carol kindly provided most of his wartime photographs, which are viewable as a gallery.

Walter Dodd, Curly’s lifelong friend, died just last month at the age of 98.

And Richards Lyon, the battalion’s assistant surgeon, celebrated his 100th birthday this week.

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