Bill Pasewark, a Hometown Hero

Bill Pasewark, a Hometown Hero
Bill Pasewark, a Hometown Hero

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - On February 19th, 1945, thousands of United States Marines invaded the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. It turned out to be the bloodiest, most costly battle in Marine Corps history.

"We had 6,800 killed in 30 days and 20,000 wounded," said Pasewark, 89.

Pasewark says there were 23,000 Japanese soldiers. Of those, only 100 surrendered and the rest were killed.

"Marines do not leave their dead on the battlefield," Pasewark said.

So they trekked back up the hills to retrieve their fallen comrades.

"And we carried them down to the trucks - tossed them as if you had a sack of potatoes in the back on the truck to be brought down to the beach for mass burial," Pasewark said.

And in the midst of his march, Pasewark picked up some harsh memories of war along the way.

"I found out early that is a whole lot easier to take a bayonet from a dead Japanese than a live one," he said, holding up a sword.

He also kept a letter from a sweetheart in Tokyo to a Japanese soldier on Iwo Jima which he later got translated.

"You are not free now but your duty will be a last one. I wish that you will do the best for your country," he read.

Pasewark says this battle was the only time where the United States won but had more casualties than the enemy.

"We walked past the mass graves and there you saw the men who you picked up in the hills being buried and tractors filling in over them."

And then it hit him.

"Marines are not supposed to weep. But it was just too much. Tears came down my cheeks and I tried to hold my rifle up and lo and behold, I couldn't do it so I dropped my head and there on the steel deck are tears from the other marines in that honor guard all weeping."

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