Air Show Honors Uncommon Valor
(October 10, 2010)
|MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (MCN - 10/7/2010) —
More than 850,000 eager spectators came to Marine Corps Air
Station Miramar Air Show, themed “uncommon valor,” to honor
the 65th anniversary of the raising of the flag on Mount
The 2010 theme was to remind air show participants of the sacrifices
made by Marines and sailors in the Pacific campaign of World War II. The
Iwo Jima veterans also enjoyed VIP treatment.
“The Marine Corps has treated us superbly,” said Gail Chatfield, Iwo
Jima Reunion Committee ticket chairperson and author of “By Dammit,
Col. Frank A. Richie, MCAS Miramar commanding officer, contacted the
committee to invite the veterans.
MARINE CORPS AIR
STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - Iwo Jima veterans
stand and salute the playing of the national
anthem at the air show here Oct. 3, 2010. The
veterans were invited as part of the show's
salute to the 65th anniversary of the landing at
Iwo Jima and theme, "uncommon valor."
The VIP service allowed many Iwo Jima veterans
to enjoy the air show who otherwise would not
Col. Richie arranged a shuttle service from the parking lot
to a VIP chalet centered on the flight line. The veterans
and their families enjoyed catered drinks, snacks, meals,
and desserts as well as a front row seat for the air show.
“That's really what I came down here for, to see the
flying,” said Art Strobel, an Iwo Jima veteran.
“I think it's great, and it's great to see all these young
people out here,” added Strobel.
“I've been here several times. It's great that we're getting
this today. It's wonderful,” said Nelson S. Gerhart, an Iwo
Jima Silver Star recipient.
Gerhart served with the 5th Marine Division, which raised
the flag on Mount Suribachi, and hit the beach on Iwo Jima
in the same landing craft as Sgt. John Basilone, a Medal of
Honor and Navy Cross recipient.
“It was time to be afraid,” Gerhart said of hitting the
Gerhart shared why he was awarded the Silver Star.
“I guess I was foolish, or just excited,” said Gerhart. The
young Marine led a tank on foot within 70 feet of a
fortified Japanese position. The tank was able to destroy
the position because of Gerhart's valor.
“I don't want to do it again, but I don't regret doing all
that I could at the time,” said Gerhart of his time on the
small Pacific island.
Today, Gerhart uses a cane, but he still stands tall when
the national anthem is played at the opening ceremony.
Though not as sharp and crisp as they were when they were
younger Marines, the veterans stood at attention for the
playing of Anchors Aweigh and the Marine's Hymn, and held
salutes for The Star-Spangled Banner.
Station Marines listened attentively to the Iwo Jima
veteran's stories of shell shock, triumph, and happy returns
to their homes.
Gerhart's eyes glistened as he retold his experiences on
“that little rock.”
For those who took the time to listen, it's difficult to
imagine how any honor can ever repay these veterans for the
sacrifices they made on Iwo Jima.
The air show served as a visual reminder for more than
850,000 people of what Marines and sailors have done in the
past, and what they continue to do today.
Article and photo by LCpl. Lisa M. Tourtelot|
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Marine Corps News
Comment on this article