YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Seventeen Sailors from U.S. Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka visited the Japanese island of Iwo To, formerly known as Iwo Jima, to familiarize themselves with the historical and current significance of the island to Japan and the United States.
The Sailors participated in an almost nine mile hike in the rain to Mount Suribachi before climbing to the top to visit memorials commemorating the bravery and sacrifice of the U.S. Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“This story must continue to be shown and told,” said Command Master Chief Warren Britten, Command Master Chief of FLEACT Yokosuka. “It is extremely important that our younger Sailors are aware and remember the many sacrifices of those that have worn the cloth of our nation in order for us to live the free life we live today.”
The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle in which the U.S. Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. All but 200 or so of the 21,000 Japanese forces on the island were killed, as were almost 7,000 Marines.
Sailors who participated in the visit said they felt it was great way to understand the history of Iwo To firsthand.
“Reading about the history of the Battle of Iwo Jima in books and watching movies is a great way to become familiar with our past but experiencing the terrain first-hand placed the struggles into perspective,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Michelle Limbrick, a leading chief petty officer assigned to FLEACT Yokosuka security. “We can never forget the sacrifices made then for the peace that we enjoy today.”
Britten said the trip was also a way to honor the veterans who have served our country.
“Being able to step foot on the same grounds that some of the bravest Japanese and American men have stepped on has been unbelievable,” said Britten. “Many lives were claimed on those grounds and it is important to remember and honor that.”
Participants also remarked that visiting the island was a rewarding experience.
“To climb to the summit of Mount Suribachi and walk on the famous black beach is something that I’ve always wanted to experience first-hand but never thought would happen,” said Limbrick. “I feel honored to have been able to be part of this amazing trip.”
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