Crater of Mt. Surbachi, Iwo Jima, 1965 by Joe Richard



Iwo Jima Memoirs


Raoul M. Ilaw
147ACS Squadron, GCA Final Flight Controller,
September 1946
United States Air Force




     I was assigned  in September , 1946 to the 147ACS Squadron as a final controller in the GCA trailer.

     There were still Japanese Marines prisoners in a stockade while US writers were detailing the history of the battle.

     Attached are two items, a picture of me with a Japanese sword I found in  one of the dark, dreary underground caves; the other is a signed statement of a trade I made with one of my buddies in that he was returning home.

     I remember the captured Japanese Marines yelling at us as we passed them, they were in shackles and chains. They were cleaning up the debris after a massive typhoon. They yelled in English "F..... Babe Ruth!

     He was the one person they related too after the war, we responded by saying the same about Emperor Hirohito.

     We would tie cord around each of our waists as we toured the dark caves with machine guns,  I understand that there was an article in 1949/50, N. Y. World Telegram describing a Japanese Marine  that surrended during that period!

     We often noticed that our garbage cans were disturbed, but thought the rats had been in the cans.

     We would borrow automatic weapons and take flood lights to the caves at night. The caches of Japanese rice in the caves were feeding grounds for the rats.

     I remember these incidents because of the history, loneliness and of the stories that were told to us by other service people between the end of the war and then. 

     In the USMC cemetery below MT. Suribachi the graves of Sgt. Johnny Basilone and his dog  rested.

     I understand that the Congressional Medal of Honor winner was taken for burial back to the states after I left.

     I was transferred to Nichols Field in Manila in December of 1946, and because I lost everything to wear in the typhoon, I had a pair of Japanese knickers, a USN shirt, another Japanese sword, a small ditty bag,  and I had not had a haircut in months. When I reported to the base the staff on duty asked me "What Army are you with?"

     I look back now at those years and realize that life offers us many experiences, good and bad.

     But it is a good life.


     Raoul M. Ilaw



Note: To view images taken by the web master on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words during his year on Iwo Jima, please click on the following link to my World War II Stories Photo Album:

WW II Stories: Iwo Jima Photo Album 1965-1966


Did YOU serve on Iwo Jima?

Did you know that there is a group of veterans who have gotten together to form an association of servicemen, no matter what branch of service, who served at one time or another starting at the invasion of the island on February 19, 1945 and continuing until the island was eventually returned to the Japanese in 1968?

Iwo Veterans Organization



We, at the Iwo Jima Memoirs web site wish to offer to Mr. Raoul M. Ilaw our most profound THANK YOU for his poignant story of his personal experiences -- during his tour of Iwo Jima and especially for allowing us to share those memories.


Original story transcribed on 22 October 2007


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    Updated on 22 October 2007...0852:05 CST





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