Story sent by SMSgt
Donald Cook, USAF Ret. Sgt. Cook was assigned to Iwo Jima from Guam
a few days after Iwo was made a separate unit under the 20th Air Force
with headquarters in Guam, which Sgt. Cook believes was around August
15, 1948. It was the 22nd of August before he arrived on Iwo, which
also happen to be his 28th birthday. This delay in arriving on Iwo is probably
why his name was not on the original transfer orders that made the 65th
a ABU a separate unit. He was in the 65th ABU until the following September
when it was assigned to the 5th Air Force with its' Headquarters in
Japan, at which time he was transferred to the AACS unit on the island.
Sgt Cook returned to the states the latter part of October of 1949.
Capture of Two Holdouts January 6, 1949
At the time I was the NCOIC of the 20th Air Force radio
transmitter site on Iwo. It was located on the north end of the island
about 200 yards from the carving of the flag raising on Suribachi. Due
to it being located about four miles from our living quarters, it was necessary
for us to have a jeep assigned to us 24 hours a day. My powerman, Corporal
Ellis, had the task of renewing the jeeps trip ticket each day. This was
usually accomplished around 0930 hours, as the motorpool required us to
have this done not later than 1100 hours each day. On January 6th Cpl.
Ellis and Cpl. Pete a transmitter attendant, drove to the motorpool to
renew the trip ticket and other business at base headquarters. That morning
near the road that turned off the main island loop road to the current
Coast Guard site they picked up two pedestrians. They were orientals, dressed
in army fatigues and wearing army field jackets about two sizes larger
than necessary. Corporal Ellis did not think it was unusual as at the time
there were Chinese Ships (old Navy LST's) off shore. At that time, China
was removing abandoned vehicles and other wartime debris of the island.
The two Air Force lads decided they were from the Chinese ships. The two
pedestrians they picked up did not seem to understand
English and were uncommunicative. Then they arrived at the motor pool the two
GI's went to the office and upon returning to the jeep found that the two hitch
hikers were gone.
The Air Force men returned to the site and Cpl Pete
remarked that they had picked up a couple of hitch hikers that apparently
had decided to walk the island loop road. At noon when we returned
to the main base for lunch, everyone was talking about our supply sergeant
who had just captured two Japanese soldiers near our headquarters.
As I understand it, the Japanese soldiers were standing near the base
of the flagpole and seemed to be gazing at the flag. The sergeant approached
them and recognized then as Japanese. He took them to the Island Commander,
and then the process began of who they were, where they had came from,
how they got there, and the story was unraveled. After a complete inquiry
and a determination that they were not with the Chinese ship, it was
decided that the two Japanese should show the authorities where they
lived, which was in a cave off the loop road not too far from where
they had been first picked up.
Upon examination of their cave a lot of
mysteries were solved. Most of our canned ham we were to have for
Christmas 1948 was found, most of the flashlight batteries (that we
though our coworkers were taking), and many other small items. These
were two professional pack rats as much trash from the family housing
area abandoned earlier was found in the cave. They claimed this was
their second cave they had lived in. The first was a large cave complex
uphill from the 20th Air Force transmitters antenna farm. Kangoku rock
could be seen from the main entrance to this cave. They had kept the
GI cave explorers away by use of barbed wire entanglements in the entrances
of those caves. The GI's were well aware of this warning.