IWO TO, Japan (NNS) -- Two Sailors assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 reenlisted at the summit of Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo To, formerly known as Iwo Jima, May 11.
With a memorial commemorating the hard-fought 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima serving as a backdrop, Aviation Structural Mechanic (Safety Equipment) 1st Class Daniel Hall and Aviation Structural Mechanic (Safety Equipment) 3rd Class Spencer Gagnon reenlisted in a ceremony administered by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Derek Jans.
"I was honored to have the opportunity to reenlist at a place where not many people get a chance to go," said Hall. "There are not many locations as significant to the war or untouched by time as Iwo Jima. It's a place that makes you aware of the true meaning of service."
The location of the ceremony also had special significance for Gagnon, whose grandfather's uncle, Marine Cpl. Rene Gagnon, participated in the battle as a member of 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. He was one of six U.S. Marine Corps and Navy personnel who raised an American flag at the top of Mount Suribachi Feb. 23, 1945 following the peak's capture from Imperial Japanese Army units. That remarkable event was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima' -- one of the most iconic photographs in U.S. military history and the inspiration for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
"It was a great honor to reenlist at the top of Suribachi," stated Gagnon. "It was perfect because of the connections to family and service that this place represents for me."
The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted Feb. 19-March 26, 1945 and involved some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II. U.S. and Japanese casualties totaled over 44,000. Today, the Japan Self-Defense Force base on Iwo To regularly hosts VFA-115 and other units of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 for field carrier landing practice in advance of deployments throughout the Western Pacific. These operations are reflective of the strong partnership that has developed between the U.S. and Japan in the decades following the battle.
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