“From a Grateful Nation” The words of a Marine Honor Guard spoken on behalf of the Corps and the Country delivered to the family of a fallen hero. This hero did not pay the ultimate sacrifice in battle, however 227 of his fellow Marines did. In reality over 6,800 Marines and Sailors were killed during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII taking the island in the Pacific called Iwo Jima. But for Gordon Schnulle and the 266 Marines of his company, only 39 came back home. While these 39 heroes didn’t lose their lives in battle they paid a sacrifice that only they will know. See the relentless night counter attacks, and bombardments ushered in by the Japanese had to have taken it’s toll on these courageous 17, 18, and 19 year old “men”. The thoughts, images and emotions run deep. For those who were able to physically leave the island under their own strength still lived there mentally for a long time, possibly even the remainder of their life. So it is with many of our surviving heroes, the memories, nightmares, and stress still remain long after they return to the safe shores of America. Remember that this coming Memorial Day as you hopefully give some thought to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, that many others still sacrificed and are still paying a price for your freedom.
This day we honored Gordon, a cheerful fun man, full of life for nearly all of his 88 years. Gordon was a customer of mine, and as Marines we shared a special bond. He shard a few things with me from his time on Iwo Jima. He was proud of his service, and rightfully so. We would swap stories in the camera store while his lovely wife was next door getting her hair done. His stories were much better than mine. He captured a Japanese battle flag while on Iwo Jima, and on the ship while steaming away from the battlefield, Gordon and the other 38 Marines remaining from his company signed that flag as well as listed their home towns. After the war that flag stayed folded up and put away in a drawer along with it’s story for over 60 years. Today that flag is on display at The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle VA a part of United States Marine Corps history for all to see. Gordon was laid to rest the the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Cemetery just south of Joliet IL in the town of Elwood. Buried with honors. In the next 30-45 days Gordon with receive his completed head stone for permanent display while resting among the other heroes. Gordon Robert Schnulle, a Marine’s MARINE is not really at rest, according to the 3rd verse of the Marine Corps Hymn… Gordon is still on duty.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
Semper Fidelis Gordon “The Corporal General”