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A true story about an Iwo Jima survivor, told in rhyming fashion

Updated on January 25, 2015
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I am a writer of poetry and fiction. I especially love flash fiction. My name is Ruby, and I live in Southern Illinois. I am a retired R.N.

A marine who never asks for anything special, just peace of mind.

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A twenty-one gun salute for a job well done. The flag covering the casket folded neatly and given to his only child who is fifty-four years old.

What is a marine?

Was his soul intertwined with nerves of steel?

He rarely spoke of the days back in 1945, on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima, refusing to remember the horror, or was he disengaged, unable to feel?

Wounded twice, two purple hearts tucked safely away in his keepsake box of memorabilia

Trinkets, dog tags, a spent bullet, some belonging to his lost buddies. When questioned about the contents, he just smiled and said, " just some old paraphernalia. "

Unable to express his anger or misery, forever trying to forget his buddies who died on that perilous day.

Blown out of a foxhole twice. Everyone else perished. He wonders why only he survived, while looking at body parts where they lay.

He was a flamethrower, used in tunnels to flush out Japanese soldiers, torched as they attempted to exit the burning heat.

He feels no pride in victory. He remembers the young Japanese men screamng in agony, falling in defeat.

He sat motionless when old glory was raised on the 5th day of the 35th day battle. He has a picture of him holding a fallen Japanese flag. The boy marine who just turned twenty-one.

He was going home a victor to a crowd of cheering people on every street in every town and city, yet he felt an overwhelming urge to run.

He suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder nightly, reliving the death and suffering of his comrades, which played heavily on his mind.

Medicated with valium, still episodes of acute fear and danger lingered. Never able to completely unwind.

Years past, PTSD remained internally, battles fought nightly in the caves and tunnels from the distant past.

Today that battle ceases as death released his soul from replaying sorrowful images. Peaceful slumber at last.

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    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Ruby,

      I felt every word deep in my soul as I read this - for you wrote from deep within your heart. Stirring, profound - so powerful.

      Voting UP and UABI and sharing. Love and hugs, mar

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Ruby, only yesterday I was listening to Ira Hayes by Johnny Cash. I have to agree with Marcoujor, this came right from the heart, poignant and powerful. Exceptional work. Up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A beautiful tribute to a tortured soul, Ruby. I've known several survivors of that war, and to a man, they never spoke of the horrors they witnessed. You captured it perfectly.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ruby. I often wonder where you get the inspiration for your stories. You portray this Marine and his anxious heart and mind so well. Vote up and sharing. Happy Sunday.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mar. I tried to write his story as truthfully as I could. He was a dear friend. Sometimes he would open up to tell me bits and pieces of his time spent in WWII. Thank you for a powerful comment, and for sharing. Love you. Hugs..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Jo. I think the most difficult part to write was the flamethrower part. He said the Japenase soldiers were on fire when they ran out of the caves. Thank you so much...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Bill. I used to go with him to the Iwo reunions, that is where he talked the most with other marines. Thank you for thinking I captured the time and place well.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      Thanks for this Hub. My uncle - the one that survived WWII (others perished) - would never speak of the war. John Hersey wrote that the people on the ground at Hiroshima looked like cue-tips on fire from the vantage point of the planes overhead. Veterans deserve a lot of respect.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mike. I have so many stories to tell. I would sit and listen to all the marines tell stories at the Iwo reunions. They all would have some drinks and open up. He told me once he'd captured a Japenese soldier and was taking him back to camp, he said he was offered big money for him, but he wouldn't let them have him because they wanted to kill him. He said that later the soldier gave them valuable info. about locations, etc.Thank's so much for stopping by. The super bowl starts at 5: 30 so I'll be watching....

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Dear Ruby, you have awakened all the sleeping memories of all the soldiers that I knew and know, I can feel their pain mixed with our pride and gratitude that they served to protect our country's people.

      Voting UP and UABI and sharing, with many blessings and hugs.

      I will be watching the Super Bowl right along with you.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      great words, read it as though i was him...nice

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Ruby, you have done a thorough job of capturing the complexity of war

      and the horrors that comprise the memories.

      Super Bowl is not tonight, Ladies. Super Bowl is Feb. 1st.

      Maybe, you're thinking of the NFL Pro Bowl?

      The SAG awards are tonight. (Screen Actor's Guild)

      Ruby you have written a fine tribute to the Marines and all the service

      members that gave so much in that horrid war.

      Great job!

      DJ.

    • always exploring profile image
      Author

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      OMG DJ. I feel like a nut, I thought the super bowl was tonight. Oh goodie the SAG awards is on, so that's where I'll be. Thank's so much for coming to read my piece and straightening me out. I hope Shyron reads this. Hee.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Do not fear. Shyron is sure to figure it out around 6:30.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Patty. Cue-tips on fire, what horror! Yes all veterans gave so much. Thank you for telling me about Hiroshima on that dreadful day..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Shyron. I was wrong about the super bowl being on tonight, it's not on until Feb. the 1st. Tonight is the Pro Bowl. So we'll watch the SAG awards with DJ. I'm so glad you liked this piece. Thank you..Hugs..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Clive. Good to see you. Thank you for a nice comment...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      DJ. I hope she didn't buy a lot of snacks and beer. HEE You are soo funny...See you at the SAG awards!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      You wrote a very powerful Hub here. I feel so sorry for all the veterans no matter what war they had to fight in. They are scared for life; mentally and physically.

      Voted UP, etc.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      wow, this was just amazing... period...

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Hi Ruby,

      I would not call it beautiful but just brilliant! An awesome Hub. Suitable for my message as a Lantern-Carrier.

      I have written a Poem called The Sad Face of War. Bill touches on this, too. I do not know if there are any winners. The young lose their promising lives; some return to be haunted, and we bring out the best of the animal in us, doing truly brutal and despicable acts.

      No judgement here. Our Lord knows best. Meanwhile, we search for answers. Much love, my Sweet.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Your presented with lovely photos and told a wonderful story from your own way.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mary. I agree. Their life is forever changed. When will the leaders of the world realize it too? Thank you for coming by...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow Frank, I love your comment. Thank you..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Manatita. War is hell, there are no winners. I am reminded of the song, ' Only the good die young. ' Your comment is very endearing. Thank you so much.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello DDE. Happy to see you. Thank you....

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Ruby, what a wonderful tribute to those who experience the horrors of war. I guess peace for the survivors never really comes until death they do part.

      Beautiful and sad at the same time.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Shauna. He told me before the war he loved to hunt, but after four years of war he couldn't even hold a gun in his hand. I really do believe for some peace only comes with death, especially if they suffer with PTSD. Thank you for coming by..

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      So beautiful and so sad. How awful it is that wars continue all over the globe. When will be learn? Your words sum it up wonderfully and for many the only release is in death.

      Ann

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 2 years ago from United States

      What a beautifully written tribute to this patriot. It hurts to know what soldiers like him suffered, and what a hero he was! I don't know how anyone could truly put those experiences totally behind them. Your told this story so well Ruby. Thanks and shared.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Ann. I agree with your statement, when will we learn? Thank you so much...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Pam, so glad you liked my story. I'm sure there's thousands just like him. We as a nation owe them so much. Thank you for reading...

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Poignant write Ruby! This feels very like prose poetry to me

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      “Today that battle ceases as death released his soul from replaying sorrowful images. Peaceful slumber at last.” Oh my, dear Ruby…this is a moving tale of the horrors of war told with unflinching candor that often hides behind he “glory,” the parades, and flags. You have given voice to so many who never speak or spoke of this war, or do so sparingly as they try to forget the pain. Voted up +++ and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Ruby its like you were there! This is truly touching yet agonizing. You've captured the essence of this soldier's suffering, something we all need to remember as the soldiers from WWII leave us. My mother-in-law always used to say she didn't want her grandchildren to forget. This is a perfect memory.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Shared too.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It was a tough war. All wars are tough but WWII changed the world, I think. Certainly our part of the world. One of my hubs was about Ira Hayes one of the marines who is in the photo of raising the flag . He was an American Indian who was made into a hero, but never felt comfortable with it.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Audrey. I wasn't sure if it would be called narrative or prose. Glad you think it's poignant. Thank you..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Genna. All wars are bad, but WWII must have been among the worst. His battle with PTSD lasted a lifetime. I think being a flamethrower and having to burn out the Japanese soldiers in the tunnels took a great toll on his mind. He told me they were on fire when they ran out. Thank you so much for commenting. Hugs..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mary. Thank you so much. One day we were sitting in a mall in Fl. he had his Iwo cap on, a young man in a suit and tie came up to him and asked him where Iwo Jima was. He looked to be about 25 years old. I was amazed. I hope we never forget...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello dahoglund. I read Ira Hayes' story. People calling him a hero caused him to seek comfort in a bottle, how sad. I agree the war changed our world forever. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting..

    • anasshad profile image

      Anas Shad 2 years ago from Pakistan

      Hello Ruby. I must say this is really something close to the heart. Keep Inspiring :)

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello anasshad. Nice to meet you. Thank you for coming by..

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my...no words to follow this...my Daddy was in the wars...and never spoke of victory ..only that it was his duty to serve...the pain of losing his fellow comrades lingered with him too until his death at 93.

      Beautifully tragic this is.....

      Angels are winging their way to you this morning ps

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello pstraubie. Nice to meet you. So happy you enjoyed this. The pain of war lasts a lifetime I'm sure. Thank you for sending angels. I love the thought..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello pstraubie. Nice to meet you. So happy you enjoyed this. The pain of war lasts a lifetime I'm sure. Thank you for sending angels. I love the thought..

    • always exploring profile image
      Author

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello pstraubie. Nice to meet you. So happy you enjoyed this. The pain of war lasts a lifetime I'm sure. Thank you for sending angels. I love the thought..

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