75th Anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima Symposium
The Iwo Jima Association of America was pleased and honored to host the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, VA from 26-29 February. In attendance were over 50 Iwo Jima veterans and their families, military and civilian dignitaries, media and entertainment celebrities.
American Airlines graciously provided air transportation for any veteran and one companion…Kudos to AA, and especially to Mr. Aaron Russell who personally arranged for the flight accommodations for each vet and companion.
IJAA opened on Wednesday with early registration and welcome aboard hospitality. The Hospitality Suite was the center of activity and a non-stop Happy Hour with closing time well after bed-time! We are grateful to David Fields and Dog Company, 2/26, 5th MARDIV for stocking the Hospitality suite with refreshments.
On Thursday, our guests enjoyed a full day beginning with a police-escorted tour to and from the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum near the Dulles Airport, followed by an afternoon Memorial Service at the Iwo Jima Memorial and parade of Marines with remarks by General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps. All the veterans were honored with personal greetings, photos and interviews.
On Friday and once again, DC’s finest provided a special escort to where all were greeted at the Museum of the Marine Corps by the Major General James Kessler, USMC (Retired), President and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Our guests were welcomed for a Memorial Service with remarks by Major General William F. Mullen, USMC, Commanding General of the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, followed by a tour of the Museum.
Saturday was the big day with an Educational Symposium by historians Dr. Charles Neimeyer, Mr. James Oelke-Farley and Col Dick Camp, USMC (Ret) and an USMC operational presentation by Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policy and Resources, LtGeneral George Smith, USMC. Fox News celebrities Martha MacCallum and David Webb were among those mixing and socializing with our grateful veterans, including movie star from “The French Connection”, Mr. Tony LoBianco.
During the late afternoon all enjoyed a special VIP reception with our military Guest of Honor, the Commandant, as well as our celebrities. Pictures, socialization and interviews again were the order of the early evening, leading to a wonderful evening Memorial Banquet attended by over 500 veterans and guests, including our Guest of Honor, Marine Commandant General Berger, Japanese Ambassador Yoshitaka Sugiyama, as well as the aforementioned Fox celebrities. Congressman Kenneth Calvert from California honored out veterans with a few remarks followed by our, General Berger. Punctuating IJAA’s charter Peace and Reconciliation, we were graced with remarks from Japanese Representative, and grandson of the Japanese Commander at Iwo Jima, Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Representative Yoshitaka Shindo. General Norman Smith, Chairman of IJAA, was presented with a gift and the General Larry Snowden Peace and Reconciliation Award for his long service to the Iwo Jima Association, as was Col Warren Wiedhahn Executive Vice President.
The evening continued with the wonderful music and entertainment from Rick and Robin’s Radio King Orchestra.
The Iwo Jima Association is especially thankful to the wonderful and generous sponsors and staff who made this all a memorable 75th Anniversary Event for our veterans and families.