Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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20171228 Iwo jima head on cropOne of the popular places for Winter Texans, especially veterans, to visit is the Iwo Jima Museum on the grounds of Marine Military Academy in Harlingen. It is located in a small building opposite the drill field where the statue of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima is located.

A collection of Morse code keys, like those used by the Navajo Code talkers in World War II, were given to the museum by the grandfather of a Marine Military cadet, Lorenzo Casso. He used the keys during World War II. The grandfather also used the Morse code keys again during Hurricane Katrina when all other forms of communication were down.

One of the Morse code keys was actually used at the Battle of Iwo Jima and was picked up off the ground by a soldier who was there after the battle ended.

An article on the wall discusses who the Navajo Code Talkers were and how important they were in winning the war.

20170228 Iwo Jima Museum GU IMG 1591Museum Director Gloria Boling says the exhibit will be expanded in January when a Winter Texan plans to present to the museum with a picture of Navajo Code Talker Ira Hayes riding horseback.

Another exhibit that may be new to some visitors is an exhibit from James B. Armstrong, a World War II fighter pilot. It includes his bomber jacket, helmet, the wooden propeller from his plane, his medals and other military items he had saved.

Among the standing exhibits in a replica of the island of Iwo Jima showing how the fight took place, a picture of the USS Arizona, the ship that replaced the ship sunk at Pearl Harbor and took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima. One showcase houses a variety of World War II rifles and weapons.

There are also items that came from the battle, such as the Japanese officer’s sword and Japanese flags signed by those who took the island. Around the walls of one gallery are pictures of the 17 Medal of Honor recipients who were honored for their heroic action during the battle.

The museum also has a display of the creation of the Iwo Jima monument outside and how it was used by sculptor Felix de Weldon to create the bronze statue on display in Washington, D.C.

A 32-minute documentary created by a local television station tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima, which was the largest Marine battle in the war. It is available for viewing upon request.

Boling said that outside there is a new black granite bench donated by the Harlingen Lion’s Club near the grave of Harlon Block that has been refurbished. Block, who was from Weslaco, was one of the six men seen in the statue planting the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

Boling said on February 19 there will be a march on the drill field honoring old veterans. Last year there were nine veterans of Iwo Jima who participated. The march is always on Feb. 19 unless it is a Sunday because that was the day the battle started.

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