First Hand Account – Iwo Jima

First Hand Account – Iwo Jima

The 31st Naval Construction Battalion on Iwo Jima

Pacific Paratrooper by G. P. Cox

This account was submitted by: John Ratomski

A Seabee on Iwo Jima: They Also Served Who Drove Cranes and Cats -62nd SeaBee Battalion


ON D+2 WE WERE JUST OFF THE SOUTH END OF THE ISLAND, in a Landing Ship, Tank. At about 5 p.m. we were told to report to our equipment. We started our engines, the LST opened its bow doors, and the ramp dropped. We were at Red Beach. A Caterpillar bulldozer went first, to build a dirt ramp. Once that was ready we moved out—trucks, more Cats, and my Northwest 25 crane. The noise was continuous. Wreckage was everywhere. It was getting dark when I got to shore, close to Mount Suribachi.  There was a 30-degree slope up from the beach; I barely made it to the top of that volcanic sand.

My partner Red and I were to share a foxhole. Trying to move that sand was like digging flour. I took the first watch and let Red sleep. When it was his turn, he woke me up every time he heard land crabs. Finally I gave him my bolo knife and told him that only after he had shot the carbine and stuck the enemy with the bolo could he wake me.

We were issued D rations, bars about two-and-a-half by five-and-a-half inches that looked like chocolate but were grainy, not sweet. Three bars was one day’s supply. Navy guys on the ship had gotten into the canned goods we had stowed on the crane, but they hadn’t fooled with the five-gallon can of water we had hidden in the boom. We were thankful to have that, since we were allowed only two canteens of water a day[…]

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EDITOR’S NOTE: For those wishing to revisit the World War II era through the eyes of the men, women on the ground who fought and worked tirelessly, some of whom never returned home and their families, I urge you to visit Pacific Paratrooper. Other categories of interests:

G.P. Cox, Pacific Paratrooper’s compilation of events during World War II is impressive, does not disappoint. Moreover, it is a part of our history that must never be forgotten. Thus, it is up to us to educate our young. Thank you, G. P. Cox.


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