18 November, 2017

Yehl, Gene

Service: MarinesUnit: 5th Marine Division

Gene Yehl was a Marine in the 5th Marine Division during the fighting at the horrible little 8 sq. miles of hell known as Iwo Jima where the famous picture of the men raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal.  Gene enlisted in the Marine Corps in March of 1942 just a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Gene went into Iwo Jima on D-Day (there were many D-Days during WW II) on Feb. 19th 1945 which was the day of the initial landing.  He says that the beach was total chaos and death.

The military planners had not planned on the Volcanic ash that was Iwo Jima, you could not move well on foot and machinery like tanks and troop carriers could just barely move.  What they had were thousands of Marines on a small beach that had been pre-sighted by the Japanese who were underground on Mt. Suribachi blasting away with artillery and mortars killing our men by the scores.

Gene says that the Infantryman had the worst of all on Iwo Jima as they do in all battles. Gene,  being in artillery on a 75mm pack Howitzer, was in danger of death the full 36 days he was on Iwo Jima.  The island is only about 5 miles  from south where the Marines were at to the north end where the Japanese were so Gene was in the Japanese artilleryman’s sights the entire time.

Gene is the reason that I have put on about 50 WW II programs in the last six years. I was just talking to WW II veterans for my own knowledge but, Gene told me that I needed to share these interviews with the public.  I knew that I wanted to help preserve this important American history and this was a great way to do if.

There were about 27,000 dead men on Iwo Jima.  7,000 American and 20,000 Japanese soldiers.  One of the American’s killed was my cousin named Max Reed who was a sailor aboard the USS Bismark Sea which was sunk by a Kamikaze on about the 21st. of February with Max being machine gunned in the water according to Max’s brother Marv.

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