ITEM CO. 3/3
Iwo Jima and Okanawa

While we were at Fuji we had two landing exercises, Operation RLTLEX III 54 at Kin Beach on Okinawa and MARDIVLEX 1-54 March 21-April 1 at Iwo Jima.

On 2 Feb, 1954 we embarked 40 officers and 780 enlisted on the USS MOUNTRAIL (APA 213) at Yokosuka, Japan and sailed on 3 Feb. 1954. On Feb 7 we made a practice landing and returned to the ship the same day. On 8 Feb., 1954 we participated in RLTLEX III 54 on Okinawa, Ryuku Island. It was an exercise on sun-drenched beaches and the hills of middle and northern Okinawa during February 1953. 11 Feb., 1954; we re-embarked on USS MOUNTRAIL (APA 213) and sailed to arrived Yokosuka, Japan on 14 Feb., 1954. We disembarked Yokosuka, Japan on 16 Feb,. 1954. We were happy to return to Japan, though we were losing our skipper, Capt Ashton, who was returning to the 1st Marine Division in Korea. So this was an excuse to throw a party for him, and it was a wild one and lasted for 3 days in the village of Gotemba.

MARDIVLEX 1-54 was a 7th Fleet exercise that included the 3rd Marine Division, Task Force 90, Cruiser Div. 1, Trans. Div 13, and Carrier Div 5 (USS ORISKANY), the forces includes 60,000 military, 100 ships, and 200 aircraft. We boarded the USS MAGOFFIN (APA 199) on March 14 along with Det. Shore Party, A Co 3rd Eng. Bn, C Med Co, C Bn st Bn 12 th Marines, Det. 3rd Marine Band, Det. HQ Bn. (Wire & radio). The aggressors were 2 nd Bn. 4 th Marines

14 March 1954 3rd Bn 3rd Marines embarked on U.S.S. MAGOFFIN (APA 199) Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. We departed Yokosuka, Honshu, Japan 16 March 1954. It looked like they had the whole Pacific Fleet participating in this landing exercise. 17 March 1954 U.S.S. MAGOFFIN held live fire exercise, fired 4 rnd 5"38, 157 7 rnd. 40 MM, 290 rnd. 20 MM. 19 March, 1954 3rd Bn 3rd Marine debarked and made a rehearsal landing on Haha Shima - west side of island and we returned to U.S.S. MAGOFFIN same day.

20 March 1954 the MAGOFFIN refueled the U.S.S. BASS (APD 124) (Small Destroyer) and while they were transferring oil, the hose broke. The Deck Log on the MAGOFFIN said that the U.S.S. Bass veered away. We sited Kito Iwo Jima distance 32.7 mi. If this is the island that I remember, it appeared to be about 3 times as high as it was wide. That night while we were on deck with the ship darkened, we heard a splash in the water and saw something float by that we could not identify. We yelled 'Man Overboard' and the fleet lit up like a Christmas tree. They had a head count and no one was missing so we went on our way. I later learned that they were throwing trash overboard about the time that we heard the noise.

21 March 1954, sited Kita Iwo Jima Island 40 mi., sited Minami Iwo Jima Island 82 mi., sited Iwo Jima 47 mi. This was the first landing exercise on Iwo and possibly the last one with LCVP's. The Division made it's landing after the Navy simulated a naval bombardment of the island, and Navy and Marine aircraft had their fun. We landed on the southwest beach by Mount Suribachi, just across a narrow strip of beach from where the actual landing took place. On D Day +2, our battalion became the helicopter maneuver force of the Division, and we boarded choppers and headed north to seize the airfield. That accomplished, we headed out for Hill 362 which had been the main line of the Japanese defense system, and was the scene of the bloodiest fighting of the Iwo Campaign. The area around Hill 362 is a sulphur bed. In fact you could heat a can of 'C' Rations by burying them in the ground. We buried a five gal. can of water for 15 minutes and the water got too hot to shave with! We were restricted to certain areas on Iwo because of the unexploded ordinance that had not been recovered. We could go up on Suribachi but we had to stay on the road and it was a long walk. After the exercise was completed, some 16,000 of us participated in a memorial service at the foot of Mount Suribachi as the American Flag was raised atop of it.

27 March 1954 3rd Bn 3rd Marines returned to USS MAGOFFIN aboard LCU 1421 and/or LCU 1396.We arrived at Yokosuka, Japan 30 March, 1954 and debarked from the U.S.S. MAGOFFIN on 31 March 1954. We returned to Middle Camp Fuji.

Contact ITEM Co 3rd MARINES 1951-54
Home          Return          Next Page