Iwo Jima, Friday, 16 March 1945
Hudson’s Japanese flag, the one he’d held up as a battle souvenir in the picture taken of him during the battle, got stolen while he was at the field hospital.
One of the amphibious vehicles took Hudson out to a ship to go back to Pearl Harbor. On board ship, Hudson got a shower, even with all his bandages on.
Then he got his dressings changed, and a corpsman showed Hudson to a bed. Decades later, he was still amazed at the luxury most people never think about, of sleeping in a bed with sheets and a blanket while not being shot at. He wrote a very happy letter home:
At the present time I guess I am just about the happiest marine here—the battle for little Iwo is all over for me and I am safe and sound now; to add to my great happiness I just completed a shower and shave and hot chow for the first time in 26 days. Now I am lying in a sack with a mattress and sheets and pillow and all the trimmings. We even have a radio playing and the music just fits in perfect.
I will be able to write every day now so I hope it makes up for the great interlapse since my last letter. Although I will be able to write daily I don’t know when my letters will be mailed. Well regardless of that I’m going to write anyway so you will get a big stack of mail just like I will get soon.
While on the island I did receive some mail and I have it all in my gas mask now. I can’t get at it now but I will try to answer everything you asked. I think the latest letter I received was dated the 23rd of Feb.
I know you will continue to worry about why, when and how I was wounded. I want to say that your worries are all over because I am really fine and the few pieces of shrapnel I have won’t even show a scar when they heal up and they are well on the way now, and by the time we get back to the rest camp I will be back with my boys again in good shape, raring to go through some more training etc.
The P.S. said,
I am so happy and thankful for everything now I can’t express my feelings.
In the morning, there was some fight left in the pocket of Japanese, but Japanese organization had fallen apart and resistance quickly ended. By midmorning, all Marine battalions reached the beach road. The pocket was taken.
Hudson’s platoon stayed on Iwo Jima a couple more days before returning to Hawaii, but its fight was over. Of the original Marines of Hudson’s platoon, only Whit and Martinez finished the battle with the platoon. Martinez eventually received the Silver Star.
Iwo Jima was declared secured that evening, meaning organized resistance was supposed to be over. For the Fourth Division that was true. The Fifth Division, on the north end of the island, had ten days of heavy combat to go.
Excerpts are from Fighting the Unbeatable Foe: Iwo Jima and Los Alamos, now republished as a 75th anniversary edition in paperback and Kindle.