"Some day I will marry you," I murmured under breath. From that time on, I saw things in a different light. My two legs that I had lost were indeed precious to me. But if I had not lost my legs, I would have never met Mary, the most precious person of my life. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.
My mind went back to the tiny island if Iwo Jima, only around 7.5 square miles in area. Viewed from the air, it resembled a pork chop, with the shank pointing southwest. The island held two air fields and a third was being constructed. They needed it to serve as a fighter escort service for our new very long range bombers, the large B-29 super fortresses. And also for an emergency landing field for the B-29s.
Iwo Jima was also a major military base for Japan. Lieutenant General Tadamici Kurbibayashi was in command of the island and said that he expected to die there, fighting the United States.
20,000 Japs did die there, but his intention was to make the conquest of the Iwo Jima so costly that we would not want to invade Japan's home waters. We will never surrender, but will fight to the last man.
Down under ground, were built barracks, hospitals, storage rooms for food, ammunition, and other supplies. There were miles and miles of tunnels connecting this vast network. Some warrior I am, I didn't last even one day!
Just then, Mary came into the room, and breathlessly announced, Joseph Jacob, stop feeling sorry for yourself… and marry me!! I could not believe my ears, I didn't know that she had any feelings of that kind. Oh, YES I shouted, I will marry you, Mary, just as soon as I can get some new legs. We grabbed each other and began rolling all over my bed. But alas our joy sure was short lived, for in came Miss Springfield. She was the Navy nurse supervisor, and she handed Mary a paper. This is your new assignment, you have just been transferred. You have just fifteen minutes to catch the next boat ashore. Needless to say, that was a happy and then sad day for both of us. We cried tears of joy, and tears of sad farewell.
Now the time changes again, this December 24, Christmas Eve, 1945. Nurse Mary trudges wearily back to her room at the Naval hospital. Here I am, all alone, on Christmas Eve, she cried. Her feelings are at an all time low. However, as she nears her room she hears music. Mary opens her door, and what a surprise… There stands Joseph, on his new legs. He decorated a small palm tree for a Christmas tree. Candles are used for lights, and small candy hang from the branches. "Merry Christmas, Mary," Joseph exclaims. "Standing next to me is the base Chaplain. For you and I are going to be married tonight!"
Mary and Joseph both survived the war and have raised nine children. Both declined to have their picture taken and both of their last names have been altered, to protect their identity.
Merry Christmas and Happy New year!
A Special Valor by Richard Wheeler
Flags of our Fathers by James BradleyPersonal observations of the author -CLO