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Iwo Jima: Arias and Lansford
Marines Pete Arias and Bill Lansford land on Iwo Jima.
NARRATOR: Among the men who landed on Iwo Jima with Ray Pittman of Mobile were Bill Lansford and Pete Arias, Marines from California who had been fighting in the Pacific since 1942. Their guerrilla outfit -- Carlson's Raiders -- had been dissolved. The hit-and-run jungle tactics they had mastered at Guadalcanal and Bouganville no longer applied in Iwo Jima.

BILL LANSFORD: When we landed, the first thing that I saw as the ramp went down was a whole bunch of wounded guys coming towards us. People were carrying them and they were all bloody and I said, 'ut-oh.' The noise was intense and it was really demoralizing. It was the worst thing I had ever experienced. And I thought, you know, I thought something's wrong with me. I don't know if I'm going to be able to make this or not. And they're were kids digging in, trying to dig in under the artilllery. And the poor kids who didn't know any better. Those of us those who had been through two or three battles literally grabbed them by the neck and kicked them and said, "move, move. Get out of here!" because the shells were right on top of us. I thought I was going to lose my mind. And I thought, "Gee, I've been in this too damn long already. I can't take it anymore."

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, Pete Arias' unit had been stopped by relentless fire from a Japanese pillbox.

PETE ARIAS: So I told this guy named Danford, "Hey, Dan, let's see what we can do about this." So we crawled up into that place where they was holding us up and we took it out. And on the way back, you know, I got hit in the leg and Danford, he got killed right there coming back. Pretty soon this corpsman came over. He wasn't from our outfit. He says, "You been taken care of, Sarge?" I said, "I don't know." He says, "Let me look at you." So he, so I had to get up and laid down there and he was over there. He gave me a shot of morphine and all that stuff hit me and I knew he couldn't bandage this up 'cause I was, I got big wounds all over the place. And then I heard, I heard this one coming.

NARRATOR: The corpsman had thrown himself over Arias to protect him.

PETE ARIAS: This poor guy he took the full blast, you know, and they killed him right there. And I'll always remember him, but I wonder who the hell he was.

NARRATOR: Both Arias and Lansford would survive Iwo Jima and eventually get to go back home.

BILL LANSFORD: The greatest sense I had about the war was a sense of satisfaction and, and, and a sense of r-, relief that it was over and we wouldn’t have to do any of that stuff again. But I also had a sense of kinship with all the other guys who had been in the service. Somehow we had become a separate entity from the people who were civilians. Our feeling was that, you know, we were like, uh, our own gang. We had all done what we were told to do, and most of us had not been, you know we’re characterized as heroes, but we weren’t heroes. We were just guys who were there and we did what we were supposed to do.