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Many of the 506th pilots came from other theaters of operations (Mediterranean, Europe) many instructors and most experienced flyers of other aircraft than the P-51D that they were flying at Iwo. Here Captain JJ Grant 462nd with his P-40 fighter. (click to enlarge)

Picture taken from a B-29 Superfortress with P-51D Mustang fighter planes escorting her to Japan.

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Letters From Iwo Jima: The Air War - aboard the Bloemfenstein somewhere in the Pacific Ocean heading for Iwo Jima. We are all rather anxious to get where we are going, to get to a place where we can unpack and fix it up and call it home for a little while. Most of us are anxious to start flying again - sometimes I think this flying business has gotten into my blood. I sure hope when peacetime comes that I can have a plane (of course a school teacher could not afford one) (JJ never did get his plane - he did obtain a Lt Colonel status in the Reserves but never flew after Iwo) All the enlisted men aboard got paid the other day. You could not walk around the decks without stepping into a crap game, a poker game or some type of game where they had a chance to increase their money.

Letters From Iwo Jima: The Air War



Aboard the Bloemfenstein somewhere in the Pacific Ocean heading for Iwo Jima. We are all rather anxious to get where we are going, to get to a place where we can unpack and fix it up and call it home for a little while. Most of us are anxious to start flying again - sometimes I think this flying business has gotten into my blood. I sure hope when peacetime comes that I can have a plane (of course a school teacher could not afford one) (JJ never did get his plane - he did obtain a Lt Colonel status in the Reserves but never flew after Iwo) All the enlisted men aboard got paid the other day. You could not walk around the decks without stepping into a crap game, a poker game or some type of game where they had a chance to increase their money.

Aboard Ship

Our traveling days aboard the boat are over as we came upon the Island one morning early and guys who had not gotten out of the sack the whole trip before breakfast were up and anxious to have a look. Its as we talked about where we were anticipating our final destination. Its as small as we figured it would be but much higher above sea level that we thought. Its all volcanic and and hard clay.<P> We stayed aboard ship a couple of days out in the harbor. Each individual who went ashore came back with tales of the number of Japanese still left on the island and how each night they were on the prowl.. they told of so many being captures each day and about the damage they had done. Everyone looked forward to landing with a great deal of anticipation. Grant of course drew guard duty guading the supplies and guarding the camp at night. The first night we did not have to go ashore for which we all breathed a little a sigh of relief. They starting disembarking our supplies right after we got here.<P>The next day they told us to be ready and at a moments notice. Finally about noon we boarded our barge and came ashore. The ships we came ashore on were fast like those that were in the invasion in which made history. They go full steam ahead right up on shore, let down a walk that is in the water aand when the waves have subsided you run like hell with your baggage. Then the Island. You sink into this ash right up over the low shoe Oxfords most of us were wearing. We grabbed a truck, loaded our supplies and sat down on the dusty old seats and headed from the camp site. There had been rain in the AM so the roads were fairly hard but I guess when its dary its real dusty.<P>We finally arrived at our temporary camp site, grabbed a tent, got all our luggage together and proceeded to set up our cots and our sleeping sacks. There are six of us that will use this little tent plus all our luggage, so its a little crowded. Here again everything is underfoot. Directly behind out area is a clay cliff with marks of battle, fox holes, and cave areas.. The boys soon discovered a dead Jap, some stray hands and legs, all just partially deceased and swarming with flies.

Second day on our little island, have moved twice now and expect to move again. The organization here is not as good as in a boy scout troop I was in back home. The medical department is not setup yet; you can not even get a bandage for your finger, and any casualities have to be hauled off to the base hospital. Water is hard to get. they can have all they want but they have a poor arrangement of passing it out so we always seem short. We are on C rations and most of us have little fires to warm up the food we are going to eat. Everything is in cans. I had frankfurters beans for breakfast yesterday. This a.m. I had spaghetti with meat. We have large pipes dug into the ground for taking a leak. Our commode is a outdoor, open air job with ten seats, very public but you will use it and think nothing of it. I am still on guard duty and my outfit has it all night tonight, hope we do not have any Japs in the area. Today we are going scouting and we grabbed a ride up to the North end of the island with Treacy, Torg, Loomis and I. We got our 45s real handy and took off into the cliff country. Talk about a battle scarred area. This is really it. We walk up and down shell craters, here and there a cliff, then numerous cave areas that have been blown up. All around is war debris. Jap ammunition, gas masks, helmets, rations, saki wine bottles, field equipment, two toed sneakers, canteens, etc. Then we sight a corpse of a Jap. He seemed to be in a kneeling position. His guts had all been eaten by worms and these big green flys I was telling you about.