Price for Peace (2002) - full transcript

This powerful and thought provoking film chronicles the compelling events in the Pacific Theater of WWII, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the American occupation of Japan in 1945. It depicts the strength and courage of America's youth, while examining how these men and women dealt with being thrust into this brutal war. The film includes interviews with war veterans, both American and Japanese, from all branches of the military. It features testimony from medics, nurses, dog handlers, as well as Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned at internment camps in the United States. The film also includes a first hand account of the tragic impact of the atomic bomb on Japanese citizens. Among the veterans who appear is Zenji Abe, a Japanese veteran who flew the mission to bomb Pearl Harbor, and retired General Paul Tibbets who flew the mission to bomb Hiroshima. Steven Spielberg and historian/author Stephen E. Ambrose are executive producers of this feature-length documentary directed and produced by Academy Award winning filmmaker James Moll ("The Last Days"). The film is a presentation of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

-When people think about war,
they quite often think about

D-Day as being Normandy and Utah
Beach because those are

the ones that got the most
play in the media.

But there were at least 40 in
the Pacific, some of them just

as bad, if not worse, than the

casualties on D-Day in Normandy.

At Pearl Harbor,

on the morning of December
7, it was Sunday morning.

An awful lot of the men had had
liberty the night before.

Some of them were up and
having breakfast.

Some of them were getting ready
to go to church, and

many of them were
sleeping it off.

The zeroes coming off of the
Japanese carriers began to

appear in Hawaii, and they
found us completely


-We just couldn't believe
what was happening.

Everything happened so fast.

-I was getting madder by the
minute because they were

knocking not only our ships out,
but they were knocking

out a major part of
our air power.

-We were looking towards
the USS Arizona.

And there was this tremendous

I'd never seen anything
like it in my life.

And it was just one
big ball of fire.

was on fire.

Everything looked like
it was exploding.

I knew what I was supposed to
do, and it was to knock this

plane down in front of me
and to get on his tail

and shoot him down.

And I managed to do that.

-You see all of that.

Then, this hate starts
to come in.

And dammit, this is war.

This is war.

-We lost 2,400 people
at Pearl Harbor,

December the 7th, 1941.

-Everybody wanted revenge,
total revenge.

I know I did.

-I wanted to destroy the
whole nation of Japan.

I hated them.

Everybody hated them.

-They made the American people
so mad that there was never

going to be any compromise
in this war.

We're going for unconditional

-The American people and their
righteous might will win

through to an absolute

-We just knew that we
were the enemy.

We were considered the enemy
because Japan had

bombed Pearl Harbor.

I didn't even know where
Pearl Harbor was.

My father was born on the 4th
of July, and he made sure we

all put the flag out
and everything.

We were brought up
to be Americans.

-There was a feeling in Pearl
Harbor that the Japanese

Americans living in Hawaii had
been giving information to the

Japanese forces in Tokyo.

So we're afraid they're going to
do this in the West coast.

-But there had been not
a single incident

of sabotage or spying.

None of that happened.

-The Japanese Americans from the
west coast were interned

into 10 internment camps across
the United States.

-We were told that we could
only bring what we could

carry, and so most of our things
we had to leave behind.

-They were rounded up and put
in to camps that they were

guarded in.

-When we arrived and saw the
buildings, it was very, very


-How would you like
to be taken away

without your things?

How would you like to know that
people are watching you

all the time?

How would you like to know that
your letters are being

read, that you can't communicate
with people?

My brother used to put
it in this way.

It's like you've been raped by
somebody you trusted, and so

you can't talk about it.

And so it was your country that
did this to you, and you

couldn't talk about it for years
and years and years.

Japanese Americans volunteered

for the armed services of the
United States even as their

families were being held
in these camps.

-My utmost thought was, they've
stripped me of my

citizenship, which was
most valuable to me.

And therefore, when they gave
me a chance to join the

military, that was
my liberation.

That restored my citizenship.

It was one of the happiest
moments of my life.

-The little town that I
was in, they went en

masse to sign up.

So a lot of the guys that used
to hang around the filling

stations weren't hanging
around the

filling stations anymore.

They were in the service.

-There was no problem of
getting volunteers.

Everybody was willing to go.

They had recruiting lines
that were two and

three blocks long.

-All of the services were
taking in thousands of

recruits a day.

-Most people who volunteered
were-- they could choose Navy,

Marines, Army.

-Well, I liked the Army.

I didn't feel like a sailor,
didn't feel like a flyer.

Even Marines, they didn't
appeal to me.

Too much PR.

-The Marines had great public
relations, and every time

somebody said, well, are
you in the Pacific?

I said, yeah.

Oh, Marine?





Oh, were you in the Pacific?

Yeah, damn right I was
in the Pacific.

-I went into the United
States Navy.

It was segregated.

The Navy was segregated.

At that time, blacks could
only be steward's mates.

You waited on the officers and
cleaned their rooms, things of

that nature.

-I cannot think of anybody that
did not have just one

objective, let's pay them
back for this little job

and get it over with.

-There wasn't any question
about what we had to do.

We had seen signs in recent
months anyway saying

Uncle Sam needs you.

-And now, all of a sudden,
America was ranked 16th in the

world in the size of its armed
forces, right behind Romania.

Now, we were in the war.

And within a couple of years,
the American armed forces were

number one in the world.

-All of the services were
going full tilt.

The Coast Guard had expanded
tremendously because they had

to guard the whole coast of
the United States, and the

rivers as well.

The Navy, of course, had to
worry about two wars.

-Well, the war in Europe
had been going

on for several years.

But things were happening in
the Pacific world with the

Japanese saying that they didn't
have any resources, and

they have to enlarge their
empire in order to gain the

resources necessary to
support their people.

-They were already deeply
involved in a war in China

that was a big drain on
the Japanese Army.

Korea was already a colony.

They were taking on the whole
of the Pacific world.

-Who's going to command the
Pacific was a big question for

the Americans.

They decided to divide it.

Douglas MacArthur
would command in

the southwest Pacific.

Admiral Chester Nimitz
would be in command

in the central Pacific.

And the Americans were now
beginning to build.

We had carriers being built
at the shipyards.

We had started a draft that
brought millions of young men

into the armed forces.

They had to be trained,
of course, and

they had to be equipped.

And American was gearing
up for war.

-Over the training periods, we
developed a lot of camaraderie

with the people that we
worked directly with.

-Well, the training first of all
put tremendous emphasis on

your physical conditioning.

-Well, it was hard physically.

And they just drilled
you constantly.

And here's people when you say
rear march, rear march, you've

got one going one way and
another one going another way.

-They took us to firing
ranges, of course.

They took us to tank training.

They even gave us
tank training.

-We were taught how to use every
weapon that the infantry

has in its force, everything
from machine guns, mortars,

rifles, carbines, pistols.

-We of course in the hospital
course school learned the

basic physiology and anatomy
of the body.

We learned the number of bones
and the way they were located

in relation to the rest of the
bones, and the knee bone's

connected to the thigh bone,
and all that type

of thing, you know.

-Our forces were adequately

There's no question about
that in my mind.

They were physically
well conditioned.

They knew how to use their
weapons, team work had been

built into them very,
very well.

So I think they were very
well trained troops.

-That training did prepare me
to do professionally my job.

But it didn't train me to
do the biggest job,

that is not be afraid.

And I was scared to death,
I'll tell you.

-Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was
the top admiral in the

Japanese Navy responsible for
laying out the strategy of how

to win the war.

What Yamamoto had

thought would happen, the
Americans will be

disheartened, and they
will negotiate.

That all came crashing
down as the American

people went to work.

-The whole country
went to war.

They built red cross bandages,
sorted button.

-You wanted to be a part of the
war effort because they

had attacked us.

-The force at home turned out
ships, planes, and bullets in

record numbers.

-Women, this is the first time
women wholesalely had come out

of their homes and
gone to work.

-My wife was a welder.

And she worked in the bottom
of the ship 40 feet down.

-We built 741 ships, and we
built once every four days.

We sent them out to sea.

We felt like we were building
the ships to bring our

husbands home in.

We wanted to go to work.

We wanted to help
to win the war.

-One of the most important
things that happened is the

building of the landing craft.

You could run it right on in to
the beach, drop that ramp.

A platoon of fighting men come
out, and they're right there

on the beach, firing immediately
when they get off

that Higgins boat,
as it was called.

-They made nothing
except war stuff.

Whatever you had, that's it.

And you didn't get any more
until the war was over.

-You can't get butter.

You can't get sugar.

It was very difficult getting
any new shoes.

-The tires were rationed.

Gas was rationed.

You were only allowed
so much gas a month.

And we all worked with it.

-Everybody was sacrificing to
make this military that could

undertake an offensive in both
theaters, and we did.

-The Philippines was a complete
loss to us because

this was one of the chain of
islands that was key to us in

the Pacific.

-We lost the Philippines.

They overran Bataan, and then
they took Corregidor, and then

the Bataan Death March.

We lost Guam.

Everything was lost.

And then came the Dolittle
raid that bombed Tokyo.

-Jimmy Dolittle was appointed
to head the raid, and he was

definitely the man for it.

We took off at about
8 o'clock.

We arrived at the target
about 12:30.

We had stopped in right on top
of the water, and then pulled

up to our bombing altitude
of 1,800 feet.

And if you're dropping bombs at
1,800 feet, you just can't

miss, period.

It was the first raid on Japan,
and it did give the

United States a shot
in the arm.

-It didn't do much damage
to the Japanese.

It wasn't a big operation.

But it lifted spirits
across America.

-Perhaps the biggest
decision in the

Pacific was island hopping.

-We weren't strong enough yet
to be able to go directly to

Japan and leave all these
islands out in the Pacific.

So the islands in the Pacific,
we island hopped just as you

would cross a stream.

And there's a whole
bunch of rocks.

And you jump from rock to
rock to rock to get

to the other side.

-And eventually, get close
enough to Japan to launch our

aircraft to bomb Japan.

-It was a strategic decision
that guided the whole war in

the Pacific and was one of the
best decisions that were made.

-When we were aboard ship, there
was a lot of hours where

there's not much to do.

-It was a long time
on the ship.

You'd lay out on the deck in the
day time, and we had some

fun and games.

-It mostly was boredom.

You got up, ate, worked,
and went to bed.

-The problems of keeping troops
that are aboard ship

and don't have room to run,
so you run in place.

Then, you give them physical

-We didn't know where we were
going until about maybe two

weeks out at sea.

-After we got out, out at sea,
they start to brief us as to

what our mission was and
where we were going.

-People had all kinds of
thoughts about what might

happen, actually.

There was a great
deal of praying.

A lot of people soul
searching, and the

anticipation of battle never
having been in it before and

wondering exactly what they
were getting into.

-In order to make an invasion
work, the Navy's job is to go

in before the invasion and
soften up the beach.

You destroy everything, all of
the enemy on that beach.

And the planes are bombing,
and everybody is doing the

best they can to make sure
there's not a soldier alive of

the enemy when we get there.

-The night before D-Day,
we were very nervous.

There was a lot of

And I looked around and I
said, are you scared?

You're damn right I'm scared.

And I said, who the
hell isn't scared?

He said, if you're not scared,
you're not human.

-I remember waking up at
dawn, and all of a

sudden, this is for real.

-About 5 o'clock in the morning
after little sleep if

any, we had charcoal, and
we had steak and eggs.

-That's the only time ever in
all the times I spent overseas

that I got steak and
eggs for breakfast.

-And it was a very eerie
experience of having breakfast

in civilized fashion, then
realizing that day we were

going to shore.

We might all be killed.

-We began at about 6:00 AM
getting ready for the assault.

-Well, we clambered down
these cargo nets.

And I was nervous with
all this gear.

-One thing they did not tell us,
by the way, that boat can

come up under you
very quickly.

-Coming down, you've got to hit
that just right, or you're

going to knock your knees
out, you know?

-In fact, we had one
boy break a leg.

-We started rendevousing out
in the ocean area probably

about four miles off
of the beach.

-The circles broke and formed
parallel lines.

And we were moving in.

And D-Day in the H-hour
was there with us.

-There were over 100 D-Days in
the Pacific, on big islands,

on small islands.

But always, the objective was to
begin the process of taking

that island.

-As we approached the beach, I
could feel a real tenseness in

everyone aboard that craft.

It was complete quiet.

you're going towards the

beach, you're doing an
awful lot of praying.

And some of the guys
got a little sick.

I watched the guys around me.

They were scared.

I was scared.

I don't think we had any
reason to be otherwise.

-You don't know what's
waiting for you.

They could wait and hang
out on the beach and

cut loose on you.

They could start firing
right away.

Anything like that,
you don't know.

-When we were getting close to
the beach, then you begin to

feel my god, this is real.

And then, as soon as they
dropped that ramp, and you're

exposed, you feel like
you're the nakedest

person in the world.

And you knew darn well that
they're going to start the

shooting, which they do.

-Very soon after that,
all hell broke

loose on the island.

-There was a tremendous volume
of fire coming from all those

defensive positions.

-And I had never seen anything
like this in my

life, absolute hell.

-There were about 600, 800 ships
out here, and I was on

one of them.

We took landing craft and came
into the reef, and on the

other side of the reef, we
changed from the landing craft

to the amphibious tractors.

And the reason for that was in
here, in the lagoon as you can

see, the water is so shallow
we couldn't get

landing craft in here.

-So we went over the side in
about three feet of water.

I had 100 pounds on my back.

A flame thrower, a bed roll,
all of my ammunition, and I

can remember distinctly sinking
into the sand a good

four or five inches as
I crossed the beach.

-It was a bloody mess out on
that beach, people getting

blown all to pieces.

-The beach was full of bodies,
just full of bodies.

-Chaos, and absolutely it
looked like the biggest

junkyard in the world.


There's bombs being dropped.

There's shells being fired.

-It was chaos.

There were just hundreds
of people moving.

And the people behind us-- and
one reason we had to get off

the beach was because there
were people behind us just

coming, just one right after the
other, group after group.

-Boats from the prior landing
turned upside down.

There were bodies floating
out into the water.

-I had never seen a dead person
even in a funeral.

And as I hit the beach, I saw
bodies and body parts

all over the beach.

-We started to go up
the sand there.

And we'd go up two feet,
and fall back one.

And we were just laying
on the beach.

And there were bodies
all over.

-Guys were dying.

Every way you could see,
somebody was dying.

-We went across the beach as
quickly as we could because

the beach was being raked
with 88s, machine guns.

And of course, there was a lot
of sniper fire as well.

-You've only got one way
to deal with it.

You're looking for a place to
get down and get some cover

for your body by jumping into
a hole or you dig one.

And that's hard because that
sand floats back in as soon as

you shovel it.

It's coming back in.

-About this time, a young
marine, I'd estimate maybe 17

years old, he was running by.

And a sniper shot him in the
head right above his left eye.

He was dead.

And I looked at him, and he
had blood running down.


then, it slipped out.

I didn't know this kid.

And I still remember
him today.

-Once we got in combat, I don't
believe any of us had

any difficulty in doing
what we had to do.

I certainly didn't.

-The only thing that we wanted
to see the Japanese was dead.

-Oh, it was nice to see the
first Jap I was going to kill.

That's what I went there for.

-It was very easy to shoot
a Jap, believe me.

-I don't care if it had been
a woman, child, baby.

I could shoot.

-I wanted to destroy the
whole nation of Japan.

-We were immediately up against
these reinforced block

house bunkers that were
reinforced concrete.

They were extremely formidable
defensive positions.

-Now, this was for an anti-tank,
anti-boat 47


It's obviously been
hit quite a bit.

-Against this kind of block
house and other locations,

flame thrower was our most
effective weapon.

The flame thrower not only
burned them up, but if it

didn't, it sucked all the oxygen
out, and they died

instantly of suffocation.

There wasn't any
way to breathe.

-However, it was used directly
on the enemy as well at times

because they would run out of
there, partly on fire, and if

you had any more left,
you certainly

would use the charge.

It was a very brutal way
to go, believe me.

-Well, this looked altogether
different than it is now.

And most everything was
scorched earth.

We used so much napalm and burnt
the grass and the trees.

-Did you volunteer to
be a flame thrower?

-Yes, yes, that's the only way
you could be a flame thrower.

Crazy, but that's
the only way.


-I was 22 years old, yes.

-So it was not a comfortable
position for them, and water

was in great demand, but they
had very little of it.

And a number of the defenders
died of thirst.

-The engineers would come up a
seal a cave, put a big charge

on top, and shoot it down
and cause it to

completely close off.

And if there's anybody
in there, they

were trapped in there.

-The branch of the American
military service I was in is

called MIS, Military
Intelligence Service.

-The main thing was to translate
military orders or

diaries or what have you and
interrogate prisoners.

-They were very careful not to
put us in harm's way because

we could have been shot
by our own men.

Some people have asked me how we
felt fighting the Japanese.

I'm not sure what I would have
done if I had come face to

face with my uncle, whom
I loved dearly.

But to me, I was not fighting
the Japanese people.

I was fighting the Japanese
military government which

started the war.

-During the assault, the tanks
were able to roam at will and

not really be in any danger
unless a Jap got some kind of

a charge on back.

-The Japanese would do anything
to destroy a tank,

including putting the
demolitions on their body and

crawling under the tank.

-They had a lot of man
and booby traps set

up, Bouncing Bettys.

So you had to watch where
you were stepping.

-The wires on a booby trap, you
can't see it, looks just

like a piece of grass.

And when you kick it,
it pulls a pin.

Boom, you have a casualty
or two.

-The wounds themselves
were horrid.

People blown all to pieces,
arms and legs

all over the place.

-My specialty in the Pacific
was being a corpsman to the

Marines who became wounded.

-The corpsmen were the Navy
individuals who were trained

to apply first aid when
needed to the wounded.

-They were the greatest
bunch of guys you

ever saw in your life.

I mean, you talk
about bravery--

if it hadn't been for those
guys, a lot of us wouldn't

have even come back.

-They were like a priest
or a minister.

They consoled you.

Yeah, I know it hurts,
but oh damn, just

think if it was worse.

-But that's part of our duty,
to try to keep the guys as

alive as possible for as long as
possible and get them back

as quick as possible.

-I was called in by my
lieutenant commander one day.

She said from 20 forward naval
bases in the United States,

they're choosing 24 girls, one
from each base, to form the

Navy flight nurses.

And would you consider if
you would be chosen?

And I said, I have to
call my mother!

-We were to fly on the airplane
and bring back the

badly wounded passengers.

-I had no idea what I was
getting myself into, really.

I had no idea that I was going
to see what I saw.

-It was quite an eye opener
because the ground was shaking

from bombs that were
going off.

-It was just a mess.

All I can say is you saw
blood, and the odor.

There was a smell
of war, really.

-And when I looked over and I
saw the boys on the ground, I

figured, oh, remind all these
side effects here.

Pay attention to these boys.

And I couldn't wait to get them
out of there because I

wanted to get out
of there, too.

-We were always talking to
them, holding their hand.

-Some had their eyes closed
because they did

have a lot of pain.

Some were just keeping eyes
closed and praying they were

going to get out of there.

There was a patient from Iwo
Jima I had on my airplane.

He asked me if I would take
a small bottle of

sand from Iwo Jima.

And I said, oh, you keep them.

He said, no.

He said, I'm not going
to make it.

He said, and I want you to tell
the people never forget

what we did here and what
we went through.

And he didn't make it.

-I was checking this one boy.

And I saw tears coming
down his face.

I said, am I hurting you?

And he said, no.

He said, I'm just thinking about
all the people I killed.

That's what he said to me.

-I wrote my mother a letter
practically every day.

I just tell her the every
day things that I did.

I took a shower today.

We did this, or we did that,
and so forth and so on.

They had to walk a long ways
to get to the mailbox.

And I didn't want them to go
to the mailbox and nothing,

they didn't get anything.

-Everybody was glad for the mail
to arrive, but yet there

was a fear, afraid you would
get the telegram.

My sister received a telegram
that her husband was killed.

And they had a little boy ride
a bicycle and bring the

telegram to her.

And my sister just passed
out from shock.

But when we got a letter that
they were well and they were

still alive, what a great joy.

-Back home you kept up with the
war through the newsreels

that preceded the main feature
at the local theater.

first offensive drive to hurl

the Jap enemy from
conquered lands.

-We would go to the Sunday
movies to see what was going

on overseas.

I'd always look to see if
I could find him on the


-And you saw cartoons, and the
racial hatred against the

Japanese had no bounds to it.


-The big buck teeth and the
slant eyes were a common

feature of all these
propaganda films.

And the American people were
propagandized into hating

everything that was Japanese.

-You were enjoying a crumb.

-The Japanese told the Okinawans
that we would rape

and murder every one of them.

So they committed mass suicide
off the cliffs.

-Just as in Saipan, the Japanese
civilians threw

themselves off of a cliff.

Women took their infants and
threw them into the sea.

-The Okinawans fared a helluva
lot worse from the Japanese,

really, than they did from us.

Because we weren't out
to rape and murder.

All we were out to do was to get
the Japanese soldiers that

were there.

-I think the Japanese soldier
was mean, treacherous, tricky,

and according to American
standards, he wasn't a real

good person.

He might have been a tough
soldiers, but he did things

Americans wouldn't
do at first.

But we learned to.

We learned to be just as tricky
and dirty as he was.

-Many Japanese were shot running
away from us because

we didn't mind shooting them
in the back, either.

At that point in time,
it was dog-eat-dog.

-The Japanese relied, as their
number one weapon, the

willingness of the men in the
armed forces in Japan.

Every one of them was willing
to give up his

life for the emperor.

-A suicide plane hit my gun
turret and exploded, killing

10 of the 20.

We had shot his wing off.

We shot his tail off.

They were just like
a bomb coming.

My buddy was trapped in the
third gun burning to death.

And I tried to get him out.

Then, there was an explosion.

I fell backward and fell over
into the fire, and Dick came

right in and got me.

-To the Americans, a kamikaze
was unbelievable.

These guys were willing to
give up their lives.

Now, the Americans were,
too, and many did.

The American soldiers would go
out on patrols that were

pretty clearly suicidal.

But they weren't anything
remotely like

those kamikaze attacks.

-The conditions on the islands
varied because the islands

were so varied.

Some of them jungley, and some
of them almost desert like.

With all these mosquitoes coming
down, bringing malaria,

with floods--

I mean, the rain came, and
it came, and it came.

-We didn't get no bath or
anything like that, but the

monsoon rains were sometimes
a blessing.

We could do a little bathing
and catch water in the

helmet and so on.

-Where we were was very
inhospitable because of the

vines, the brush, and
stuff like that.

But all the coconut trees were
planted row on row on row.

That was very, very pretty
to see that.

-Bob Hope and the USO would
come into these islands.




-What it meant to the men was
they do remember us back in

the states.

They weren't forgotten.

-The Marines had war dogs.

Those war dogs, every one
of them was a hero.

I wouldn't want to go back into
combat again if I didn't

have one of those dogs.

-I had dogs.

They were family dogs.

They didn't come from kennels.

They didn't have any
police training.

They were just from the average
family that wanted to

help the war effort by enlisting
their dog into the

Marine Corps.

-They have senses that
we don't possess.

They can hear things,
smell things that

we never knew existed.

-You watched that dog
when he was working.

You could watch his tail.

You could watch his head.

And he'd pick up the scent.

And he'd go after them.

-The dogs and the men were
together all of the time, and

particularly when in
combat, they were

together 24 hours a day.

-They ate together.

He would give him a drink
out of his canteen.

They ate out of the
same mess kit.

-I've seen men when their dogs
got killed, they'd take the

bloody body of the dog in their
arms and rock them back

and forth, and tears would
come in their eyes.

They'd just lost not only a
dear friend, but perhaps

somebody they considered
had saved their lives.

-The Japanese were very crafty
about crawling around, and

crawling in the foxholes and
slitting your throat at night.

-Just the idea that somebody's
crawling around out there that

can do this to you, you know,
you don't get much rest.

-You could hear a guy,
oh, I'm hit.

Oh, I'm hit.

And you couldn't do nothing.

-We had a password
on the island.

And it was usually a word that
the Japanese could not

pronounce properly.

-Like "clear weather" or "clear
day." And that would be

the password for the night.

Every night, we had a
different password.

-One of them may try to trick
us because they'd learn a

little English.

And he said, how'd you
make out, Joe?

And of course, our Sergeant knew
that that wasn't one of

us, and so he mowed him
down with a Tommy gun.

-Come daylight, just very
earliest glimmer of daylight,

the island was littered with the
dead from the day before

with a hand sticking up here and
a foot sticking up there,

and one that hit me the most
that I remember was a friend

of mine who was buried.

Most of his face was sticking
up, and then his body was

buried, and the shoulder
was sticking up.

And with the waves coming in, he
was right at water's edge,

and an arm moving with
the water like this.

And I remember thinking,
he's beckoning me

to join him in death.

-I found one of my Sergeants
lying there with a leg so

badly wounded I thought
he'd lose it.

And he said to, captain,
please help me.

And I said, Len, I'll give
you a shot of morphine,

then I've got to go.

Because I'd been trained, as
all Marine officers were

trained, that when you have a
single casualty like that, you

give him quick attention and
call for somebody else to

come, and then you go.

Because after all,
I had another 220

Marines to worry about.

-Oh my god, here I am,
I'm facing Japs three

or four feet away.

And I can't fire anymore.

But as I'm looking down in my
rifle and seeing about trying

to unjam this thing, I'm seeing
grenades to my right.

So I dove for them and covered
them with my body, shoving the

grenades into volcanic ash to
try to save the lives of the

three buddies that
are with me.

And it blew me over
on my back.

My guys left me.

They thought I was dead.

Another outfit moving
up was covering me.

They picked me up, and they took
me on back to this place

where a lot of others were lying
down on cots wounded.

Later, I woke up when they were
moving to a big hospital

ship headed back to Honolulu.

-My radio man was a 6'
2" cowboy, Avery.

And we went out on patrol.

A Japanese shell landed
right next to us.

And it cut Avery's leg
off at the groin.

He did not lose consciousness.

There was no way to put
a tourniquet on it.

And cradled his own leg.

And he kept saying to
me, do something.

I sat with him until he died.

-You soon learn that you're
going to lose your buddies.

The question was which ones and
when, and when's it going

to be your turn?

-When it was your buddy, you
would sit down and cry.

It really was tough on you.

You hated to have to go off
and leave his body.

-If your buddy gets killed,
you've got to have a

detachment there and to
say, well, it's just a

thing in the war.

I really had nothing
to do with it.

Because if you let it eat your
guts out, then you're

endangering your own life.

You've got to be practical
about it.

-We went there to kill Japanese,
and that's what we

were doing.

And they were trying
to kill us.

And people were getting blown to
pieces on the beach, I mean

evaporating some
of the bodies.

They were direct hits.

What are you going
to do about that?

Are you going to lie down on
the beach and cry about it?

Back out, and get out in the
water, swim back to the boat?

You came there to fight.

-It's either kill
or be killed.

And there's no joke about it.

There's no use in trying
to dress it up.

-Didn't worry about who he was
or how many kids he had, who

his grand daddy was.

He was just somebody to blow
somebody and save myself.

-When I pulled the trigger,
it was a target.

It was afterwards that the
impact of what I'd done, taken

a life that--

that things started
coming back to me.

And then, I thought
about them.

-The hate in you begins to
dissipate because you realize

you've taken somebody's life.

And it affects you.

-I had to talk to somebody.

And I talked to our sergeant.

And he said, well, you get
used to it after a while.

That was an answer, I guess.

You get used to it.

I never did, never did
get used to it.

-Fourth of July, we
had killed 350.

I had three men wounded.

And that is 350 dead bodies.

And when the sun comes up, the
gas in the body expands.

And the bodies are covered with
white maggots and black

flies, and then you've got your
cold ration and try to

eat with the flies coming in
and going in your mouth.

And then, as the gas expanded,
it would pass over the dead

vocal cords.

And you'd hear the sounds of
these dead bodies making weird

groans as the gas went
over the cords.

-We used to go to the caves with
one of those bull horns

with a speaker on it.

-We went out there to see
whether we might talk any of

the Japanese into

-I don't think any of us
had any hope we could

get them out alive.

But we thought we'd try.

What've we got to lose?


Come on out, don't be afraid.

Take off your uniform.

-And we were saying, you
fought honorably.

We will take good care
of you and your men.

-People that got killed, we
would come back later and pick

up the remains.

And that would be transferred
to the rear area where a

temporary cemetery was set up.

-Before we loaded ship,
they had a big

ceremony at the cemetery.

It was probably the most heart
wrenching time of all.

We all had an opportunity to
go down and to view all the

crosses, pick out our buddies.

Then, a chaplain gave
a service there.

And it was the most solemn scene
of the whole operation.

-We went aboard ship and were
told that it would be a

beautiful meal for all of us.

-The bakers had baked a fresh
loaf of bread the

night we got there.

And another buddy of mine went
over and got this wonderful

loaf of bread, you know,
hot out of the oven.

And I never had anything as
good in my life as just a

plain old loaf of white bread.

But I'll tell you,
it was good.

-That's when we learned that
President Roosevelt had died.

-On April 12, 1945, President
Franklin Roosevelt died.

For most of the fighting men, he
was the only president they

had ever known.

Now, Harry S Truman,
the vice president,

became their leader.

And the ending of this
war fell to him.

-So they took us way back to
our base in Hawaii on the

island of Hawaii, and we
reformed there and were

getting ready for the next
operation, which would have

been landing on Japan

-Well, the plan was to land a
large number of Marine and

Army divisions on the west coast
of Kyushu, Japan on 1

November, 1945.

-There were going to be millions
of people involved in

this because we knew the
Japanese, they'd used their

women, the children,
anybody to kill us.

-They were digging out foxholes
all across Japan.

They had brought their best
troops back into Japan to

defend the home island, and it
was going to be just this

horrendous battle.

-It never happened.

And of course the reason it
never happened is because of

the atomic bomb.

-The culmination of the American
production process in

the Second World War was the
atomic bomb, which the

Americans had started working
on in 1942 and had completed

by the summer of 1945.

And President Truman
ordered it used.

-Where we now, of course, is the
bomb pits where the atomic

weapons were loaded
on the B-29s.

-This is where Paul Tibbets took
off in the B-29 that he

named Enola Gay for the
bomb at Hiroshima.

And it came up out of the pit
right here, and then Tibbets

flew that mission.

-I put out of my mind anything
that had to do with morality,

religion, or anything
like that.

War is hell.

And I wanted to get the
killing over with

as fast as I could.

The airplane was quiet.

Normally, you'd fly
with a crew.

They were telling dirty
jokes and all of that.

There was none of
that this time.

There was dead silence because
they were all determined, just

as I was, to get that bomb on
the target for what good we

thought it might do.

And I thought the first day that
I heard there was that

weapon that if we could do, we'd
certainly help the war

effort along.

I could see over the
instrument panel

beyond it was Hiroshima.

I didn't see it.

All I saw was the sky light up
in front of me, a beautiful

pink and red color.

And in the end, there were three
and a half square miles

of Hiroshima devastated
in one blow.

That's how terrific it was.

Rest of the trip going back,
everybody was relaxed.

Tension was over with.

I told Bob Lewis, my co-pilot,
I said, you take it over.

Let autopilot fly it.

I'm going to get a couple hours
of sleep, and that's

what I did.

-All of a sudden, the
report came in about

the bomb over Hiroshima.

And we just sat there
in stunned silence.

-And of course, we cheered
and had our

little, you know, rejoicing.

-But the next day, we were right
training just like we

were going to keep going because
nobody had said it's


-There was a feeling in Japan.

Well, the Americans dropped this
atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

But we're going to continue.

Hiroshima is not a
military target.

The Americans did not weaken our
military strength with the

bomb on Hiroshima.

We're going to continue
to fight on.

And Truman decided, we're
going to go ahead with a

second bomb.

-And at that point, the
Japanese military

just had to give up.

We can't do anything against
atomic bombs.

We can meet Marines
at the beaches.

We've got an air force left that
can go out there with the

kamikazes and sink a lot
of American ships.

We can force them to pay a
terribly high price if they

want to invade Japan.

But what the hell were
they going to do

about an atomic bomb?

-And many people have debated
the use of that

bomb over the years.

But I would say that probably it
was the best decision ever

made because we would have lost
many, many, many men,

over a million probably would
have been lost, in trying to

invade Japan.

-The treachery that Japan had
thrown upon us, I had no pity

and still don't have no
pity for the Japanese.

-Tell them if they had never
been at Pearl Harbor, there

had never been a Hiroshima
and a Nagasaki.

So we did that to save lives,
not only of Americans, but of

millions of Japanese.

-I think it was a mistake.

I think it could have been
demonstrated elsewhere without

harming people.

-A demonstration bombing with
the atomic bomb would have

been rather futile because I
don't believe the nature of

the Japanese would have yielded
to anything less than

a holocaust that we
put on Japan.

-I've been asked time and again,
don't you feel terrible

about killing all
those people?

No, I don't feel terrible.

I'm sorry that they were there
and had to be killed.

But what had to be done was
bigger than those people,

bigger than me.

-It ended the war, and
it brought us home--

what was left of us, yeah.

-The surrender took place
in Tokyo Harbor on

the battleship Missouri.

-Let us pray that peace be now
restored to the world and that

god will preserve it always.

-The end of the war was like a
load taken off your chest that

everything was going
to be OK now.

Won the war, everything's
going to be OK.

-VJ Day, as it was called,
Victory over Japan Day, when

they surrendered, led to the
biggest celebration America

has every known.

Crowds were just filling
the skyscrapers and

throwing out confetti.

-And I was trusting that my
husband would be one of them

that would get to come home.

And what a great day when
he did come in.

-We pulled into San
Diego Harbor.

There was a huge, huge sign that
said "Welcome Home," and

for the next seven days,
they fed us like kings.

-I had been injured.

And when I came home, my mom,
you know, she grabbed me and

was feeling me all over to see
if I had any missing parts.

And she was so happy that
I was in one piece.

-My dad met me at the
train station.

And I was as brown as
a brown paper sack.

And I saw my dad there.

And he was looking around trying
to find me amongst all

the other passengers.

And I walked up to him and
looked him in the eye.

And he looked around
me, you know?

I said, he don't know me.

He just doesn't know me.

So I walked around him and
walked up to him behind him

and tapped him on
the shoulder.

I said, it's me.


he grabbed me and gave
me a big hug.

-My brother came back
from the service.

He wanted to see his
parents, of course.

So he came to the
internment camp.

And it was after hours, and he
could only touch my mother

through the barbed wire fence.

-My father and mother remained
in camp until

the end of the war.

They didn't know where
to go, what to do.

They heard that a few who
tried to get back

had very bad reception.

Their homes were burned down,
or they were chased out.

-I received the Navy Cross in
San Francisco, California.

That night, they came
and took the--

took the document from me
because I was black.

And black steward's
mates weren't

supposed to get Navy Crosses.

-The Medal of Honor is the
highest decoration awarded by

the United States government.

The President of the United
States is the one that

decorated me at the
White House.

I stepped forward
to, Jack Lucas.

I had Truman hang that
medal around my neck.

And he says, I'd rather have
this medal than be President

of the United States.

I said, sir, I'll swap you.

He just laughed.

-So it was great to be in the
United States of America and

to be welcomed and for them
to tell us job well done.

-Japan immediately became
a part of the American

anti-communist alliance.

And the Americans went into
Japan with Douglas MacArthur

as the head of the occupation to
bring about a democracy in

Japan, to re-shape Japan.

-Some of these hills you're
looking at here haven't

changed, have they?

-The hills didn't change,
but there was no--

-No trees or--

-There was no property.

There was nothing.

-Nothing left, no.

-The importance of going back to
Okinawa with my family was

to show them where their uncle
was killed and to show them

where I fought.

-This is Kunishi Ridge
off to the right.

-Well, there's a road that goes
across the valley there.

You can drive up on the
edge of the ridge.

-My brother was fighting
on Kunishi Ridge.

He was only 200 yards from
me where he was killed.

-Standing at Kunishi Ridge, I
can envision in my mind the

battles because I saw
the newsreels.

And I can see my husband, a
young man, fighting through

the war and knowing that
at any moment, he

could have been killed.

What courageous young men
we had to fight and

risk their own life.

-We went to the memorial gardens
with the granite

stones that have everyone's name
written there that died

on Okinawa, or off Okinawa.

And my children took a rubbing
on the stones of the name of

my brother.

To be able to have my children
there and for us as a family

to experience that was the most
rewarding part of the

whole trip to Okinawa.

-A dead soldier is a basic
hero, I think.

A man that died for his
country, he's the one

who's a real hero.

-It's a great sacrifice to
personally give his life.

And for those young men and
women who had so much to look

forward to, and now are gone.

I just hope that people
never forget what

they did for freedom.

-That's the part that really
hurts me is the young guys

that never had a
chance at life.

-On December 7 of 1991, a group
of the Japanese pilots

from various different ships,
and I think there was about 24

of them, came.

And then, I met Mr. Abi.

And we were kind of drawn
to one another for

some unknown reason.

-He was a bomber pilot
off of the

aircraft carrier the Akaki.

And he bombed our ship.

So we were saying our last
goodbyes at the hotel.

And he says, Richard-san,
please do me

this special favor.

He said, would you please buy
two roses, one rose for me and

one for you?

Would you please go out
to the Arizona and

play "Taps" for me?

And I've been doing that
every month since 1991.

And he keeps replenishing
me with money.

-What you'll find if you talk
to old veterans, they don't

talk about their war experiences
to their families.

When these fellows get together
on reunions of this

kind, they exchange war stories
with each other

confident that both parties
understand what they're

talking about.

-Oh, my goodness!

I finally kissed a nurse.

I kissed a nurse, first time!

-I go to the Marine conventions
every few years to

stay in touch with
old friends.

And we like to keep those
friendships going because we

did have three years at least
together under very dire


-Well, the ones who returned to
Iwo Jima will experience a

great emotional when they get
down to an area that they

recognize on the island.

It really is an emotional
experience to stand there and

think about what you were doing
when you were there.

And it immediately brings on
thoughts about your friends

that you lost.

So it's a matter of revisiting
a difficult period in my life

and expressing appreciation
for the fact that he

had to do it again.


That's the way you do it.

-I am a walking advertisement
for the Corps, aren't I?

-Oh, you are the Marine Corps
poster child here.

-I've been wanting to go
back to Iwo Jima for

an awful long time.

I decided that I had to go
now if I was ever going.

I'm looking forward to it sort
of like looking forward to

going to the dentist.

I know it's something I must
do, but I'm not really all

that eager to have that
tooth pulled.

I know it's going
to be painful.

One, two, three.

-Even three or four years from
now, you'll be proud that you

were a Marine.

You will be proud if
you're not already.

-Yes, sir.

-In particular, one of the
things I want to see is the

top of Suribachi, where
the flag was raised.

Down in there is where I spent
most of my first day, just

right down there within 20 to 30
yards of the beach, of the

water's edge.

I wanted to see the beach.

And I understand that the
beaches haven't changed.

-For over 50 years, I've
had nightmares that

I just can't describe.

And I'm hoping to put these
ghosts to rest.



-There they go.

-Well, one of things I'm going
back to Iwo Jima for is to

take my wife back there and let
her see where I fought as

a very young man for the freedom
of this country.

-Come on, Louis, let's get the
picture of this over here.

Does anybody want to
get in the picture?

Come on over here.

I want to have my picture
made with you.

You already look gung ho
and ready to go to war.

-Yes, sir.

-Now, I think maybe I'll be able
to spend a year or two,

all of that sleep, without
these nightmares.

Before I die, I can die
a rested old man.

-I kiss you on the beach where
I landed 56 years ago.


-I was 17, too.



-The loss that comes from those
things, you can be sure

changes your attitude about
things forever.

And those of us who are lucky
enough to be here today know

that we're the luckiest
of the lucky.

-Those of us who stood on this
island in 1945 find it almost

unbelievable that we stand here
together once again to

honor our fallen comrades.

We continue to ask for the
comfort of their souls.

We seek relief for the sadness
of their families.

May they now and forever
more rest in peace.

-Right, face.

Right flank ammunition, load.

Ready, aim, fire.

Ready, aim, fire.

Ready, aim, fire.