Monday, September 12, 2011
Not Old Enough To Enlist, Not Old Enough To Drink
Grove Havener was 17 when he joined the Marines during World War II. His parents had to sign too, giving him permission because he was not of legal age.
At age 18, he found himself in the invasion of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, a miserable place composed of volcanic rock. It was necessary to seize the island because the Allies needed an airfield closer to the Japanese mainland from which to launch their bombing missions.
The fighting was brutal; the Marines had to fight desperately for every inch. The Japanese defenders had built extensive underground fortifications during their occupation of the island. They had survived a heavy naval and aerial bombardment before the Marines landed. Now the enemy could pin down the young Americans from relative safety.
These conditions reinforced an age-old truth about war: All the explosives in the world can't win a battle. Only troops can hold a piece of terrain. It was up to the Marines to win and hold Iwo Jimo.
Grove witnessed the famous flag raising on Mount Suribachi. This iconic image has become a cherished part of our national heritage, and he was there to watch the those Marines and Sailors become a part of history.
After 24 days of combat, Grove Havener was wounded. The Japanese had been launching rockets, called "buzz-bombs", at the invaders. When the Marines heard the tell-tale buzzing, they would yell for everyone to hit the dirt. Grove had recently been deafened by a blast, and he never heard the warning. He was evacuated off the island and sent to a Navy medical ship.
At the end of the war, Havener was heading home.He stopped in Oakland, CA. He and a buddy went into a dance hall to have a drink. A policeman spotted the two and demanded to see their ID's. Grove was 19 and wasn't old enough to drink in that state. The cop told him to leave.
Served his country, overseas for more than 2 years, wounded twice, but not allowed to have a drink.
If you see Grove Havener when you're out and about, buy him a drink, for Pete's sake...