Crater of Mt. Surbachi, 1965 by Joe Richard



Iwo Jima Memoirs


Harold Spear
A Company, 802nd Heavy Constructin Engineers,
December 1956-May 1957
United States Army



     I arrived at Camp Drake Japan in December of 1956 from Ft. Belvoir, Va. I spent a couple of days there and then [was] sent on to Southern Japan where I was assigned to A Company 802nd heavy construction Eng.

     The day after X-mas 1956 I was moved by plane to Iwo. When we off loaded on the tarmac I had never experienced such heat and humidity. I was met by a rep from A Company and this same day assigned a D-8 cat 5 ton tractor and 25 ton low by to move with.

     I was assigned the night shift and the next day started working 1800 Hrs to 0600 Hrs. One of my jobs was moving in dirt building ramps on three sides of these buildings that A Co had built before I arrived.

     I pushed out several old weapons and ammo also human bones from the dirt.

     We very seldom got any time off . Most of my off time was spent searching for an opening to Mt Sarabachi. The rumor was that the Japanese had buried a complete payroll in the mountain.

     Our Company lived in tents below the air base best I can remember maybe 100 yards from the tarmac.

     While we were there we built a high wire fence around this area where we worked. We used a truck mounted earth auger to bore holes for the fence post. After these holes were dug steam would start coming up from the holes and you could not keep your hand in one of these due to the heat.

     The ground where we were using the D-8 cats to dig was almost impossible as the ground was very hard and after you dug down 6 inches or more steam would start rising and made it very hard to see what you were doing with your cat blade.

     After this job was completed in May 1957 we started loading out by LST for our move back to Japan. I had worked all night and was in the mess tent eating breakfast when the ground started to shake and we heard a very loud explosion. We rushed outside to see large rocks and and steam blowing several feet in the air. The ground had opened up between the runway and Mt. Sarabachi. We were not able to get very close but close enough to see a deep crater several feet deep and maybe 100 ft across. This was front page news in the Stars and Stripes. I had a copy of this for several years and sometime during one of my moves it was lost.

     I never knew what was to be stored in these buildings. If you know please let me know.

     I hope this bit of information about my time on Iwo will be helpful...


MSG Retired Harold M. Spear

Harold M. Spear


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. Harold Spear 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 4 January 2004


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    Updated on 19 October 2007...1918:05 CST




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