Alvy Ray Pittman, the son of a veteran of World War I, was born December 5, 1922 near Columbia, Mississippi. After finishing high school Pittman moved to Mobile to work with his father in the carpentry business. In November of 1942, Pittman enlisted in the Marines.
Pittman was trained to be a member of a demolition team, which were assigned to assault enemy “strong points” in advance of the riflemen. He became expert at the use of explosives and assigned to the 4th Marine Division, 20th Marine Engineers.
Pittman and his division left the United States in January of 1944. On February 2, he fought for the first time in the Marshall Islands. In June, Pittman and his unit landed on Saipan and after that island was secured, they invaded Tinian. In the five weeks he spent on both islands, Pittman lost 50 pounds. Before he had enlisted, Pittman had worried that the war might end before he had a chance to get into it. After surviving Saipan and Tinian, he began to worry that he would not live to see the end of it.
Pittman was promoted to Sergeant and put in charge of his own demolition team. On February 19, 1945, Pittman and his squad landed on Iwo Jima in one of the early waves. By the time the battle was over Pittman’s squad had only three men left out of the 16 who had landed. Pittman managed to survive without any wounds, but lost many comrades and friends.
Pittman was sent next to Hawaii to train for the invasion of Japan. In November of 1945 he came back to the United States and was discharged from the Marines. He returned to Columbia, Mississippi where he met, and later married Inez Pickett. Pittman went to work for his father-in-law in a brick and concrete block business, and eventually took over and expanded the enterprise. After he retired, two of his three children took over the business.