Honoring Local Iwo Jima Veterans
In honor of the 73rd anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima, The History Center is proud to highlight two local veterans who served during the invasion and occupation of the island during World War II.
Fastrill logging camp native John Powers joined the U.S. Marines in 1943 by giving the recruiter an incorrect birthday, moving his March birthday to December to qualify. He quickly excelled at the shooting range, earning a spot as a scout and sniper. After participating in the invasion of Guam, he and his unit landed on Iwo Jima on February 20th, 1945, on the second day of the invasion. In December 2015, Jonathan Gerland interviewed Mr. Powers about his life in East Texas and his experiences in World War II. The audio of his interview, along with the accompanying transcript are available here.
New York native Ben Weber settled in East Texas following World War II, having grown to like the area and its people after being assigned to guard prisoners at a POW camp near Huntsville. As part of his job as a military policeman (he joined the Army in 1942), Mr. Weber guarded POWs all over the world and in the U.S. On Iwo Jima, he was assigned to guard the 232 General Hospital. Mr. Weber passed away at the age of 90 in 2014, 9 months after receiving the medals he earned during his World War II service. In 2012, Jonathan Gerland interviewed Mr. Webber about his experiences during World War II and his life and career before and after the war. His interview is available by clicking here. He also donated a diary about the battle for Iwo Jima written by a Japanese soldier. That diary is available on our website by clicking here.
The History Center staff is honored to to be entrusted with the stories of our local veterans and gives thanks for the sacrifices they and their families made and continue to make.