New Hampshire Marine Raised the Flag at Iwo Jima
Feb. 23, 1944
… Outside, the birds are singing just like you hear them up north in the springtime … When you look outside on a day like this, you can’t possibly imagine there’s a war going on. It just doesn’t seem logical — why do people want to fight when there’s such places as this to live in peace in? Then I heard the sound of airplanes, [and] that sorta broke my daydreaming up … It was a bomber … Only 3,000 miles across the ocean, there are no more swell little forests like this; all there is left over there are ruins of buildings, bridges, and roads. And as it is now, lots of husbands and boyfriends are not coming back. I keep telling myself that can’t happen to us, and I don’t think it will — there always be swell little cottages with green shutters, and boys dating girls. By the way, I’ve got a date for life with you after the war, and I never break dates …
Love as ever,
The war irresistibly drew Rene toward combat. In September 1944, his division embarked for Hawaii to receive more specialized training. In January 1945, Rene left Hawaii aboard the troopship USS Missoula for a destination he knew only as “Island X.” Throughout it all, Rene continued writing home to New Hampshire.
On February 24, 1945, Rene wrote a hurried etter to Pauline from Iwo Jima. It was the day after the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, the extinct volcano that overlooked the island from its southern tip — an event he apparently did not consider important enough to mention.
24 Feb., 1945
Here’s a line to let you know I’m all right, and I hope to hear the same from you … Now I can tell you why I didn’t write: We were in action on Iwo Jima. You’ve probably read about it in the papers as it was a pretty tough battle — outside of being muddy, dirty, and needing a shave pretty bad, as we’ve been here quite a while. I’m all right, so I guess you’ll forgive me for not writing … I got your pictures with the evening gown aboard ship, so I put them in my helmet and [they] arrived there with me. I still got them and they’re not banged up too much. You still look beautiful, darling.
Love as ever,