On May 25th, 2017 our Rotary Club was visited by Sgt. John “Jack” Ryland Thurman and his daughter, Commander Karen Thurman, USN, NC. Jack talked about being part of the first wave of Marines to land on Iwo Jima during WWII. He gave a most memorable talk that had us all spellbound. He was part of the 5th Marine Division, 27th Regiment. His story began when they were about to land using Steel Amtracs. The Amtracs on the left and right of Jack’s Amtrac were hit by mortars and all 50 men on each vessel were killed outright…making the water that Jack’s group waded through on the way to the beach red with their blood.
He spent the next ½ hour talking about the tremendous firepower of the “Japs” and the tenacity and drive of the Marines whose mission was to take Iwo Jima. He also detailed his experiences entering the caves and tunnels and confronting a Japanese soldier. He then talked about one of the most celebrated Marines in his unit, Ira Hayes, the famous Navajo Code Talker, who was part of raising the Flag over Iwo Jima.
At the end of his talk all of the Rotarians rose to their feet simultaneously and gave him a standing ovation. Jack’s response was, “Semper Fi”!
Thank you Jack and Karen for coming to our meeting and sharing Jack’s incredible story with us.