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Ten Years - More Than A Memorial
by Kristen Wong - March 23, 2012

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MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay (3/16/2012) - More than 60 years ago, five Marines and one Navy hospital corpsman planted the American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the heat of the Battle of Iwo Jima, and Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the moment.

March 12, 202 - The Pacific War Memorial was completed and dedicated in 2002 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The Pacific War Memorial Association and many other entities contributed to the building of the memorial. The memorial is made from the same mold that was used for the monument at the National Iwo Jima Memorial in Newington, Conn. Photo by Kristen Wong
March 12, 202 - The Pacific War Memorial was completed and dedicated in 2002 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The Pacific War Memorial Association and many other entities contributed to the building of the memorial. The memorial is made from the same mold that was used for the monument at the National Iwo Jima Memorial in Newington, Conn. Photo by Kristen Wong

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. immortalized the moment in bronze, again in Newington, Conn., at the National Iwo Jima Memorial. As the mold began to deteriorate over time, it would be used only once more. That last statue was made for Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Japan and the U.S. recently commemorated the battle, which took place from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945.

Today also marks the 10th year since the Pacific War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated aboard the base. The memorial commemorates the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the Pacific campaigns as well as the units which participated in those campaigns.

“It's a living memorial,” said Swede Olson, the vice chairman of the Pacific War Memorial Association. “There are events there almost every day, along with visitors who photograph the memorial and read the history displayed.”

The Pacific War Memorial Association is a nonprofit organization created by Alice and Bee Clark, a couple from Kamuela, Hawaii. In 1996, the Clarks, who originally created the Camp Tarawa Historical Foundation, met George Gentile, the president of the National Iwo Jima Survivors' Association. Gentile told the Clarks that the organization wished to use the mold for their statue in Newington, Conn., for an identical statue in Hawaii.

Through the efforts of the Pacific War Memorial Association, various contributors and several donations, the memorial, was completed in 2002. Materials which make up the memorial such as the granite sides, came from as far as Africa, Minnesota and Oregon.

Surrounding the Pacific War Memorial is a Walkway of Honor. This walkway is made of bricks commemorating military veterans. Veterans or immediate family members of veterans are eligible to dedicate a brick, engraved with the service member's name, which will be placed along the walkway. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Actor Jim Nabors, for instance, who was named an honorary Marine, now has a brick on the walkway.

“The association wants to continue to commemorate and preserve the history of U.S. military contributions and sacrifices in the Pacific theater in defense of freedom,” Olson said. “They continue to work with other historical partners and have future plans to build the Pacific War Memorial Historical Center adjacent to the Pacific War Memorial.”

Clark recalled once seeing a busload of Marines stop at the memorial before leaving for a deployment. He said the Marines got out and had their picture taken next to the memorial.

“It's heartwarming that young Marines can have a place like that to go and be recognized before they go into battle,” Clark said.

As people come off of Interstate H-3, either driving or walking into the main gate of the base, they will see the Pacific War Memorial, beside Kaneohe Bay. Many people, including Marines, sailors and visitors to the base continue to visit the memorial to hold ceremonies, and take pictures.

“I think the intended purpose of the memorial has been realized,” Olson said. “It has become a place for healing, memorializing, celebrating, and learning that we will continue for future generations.”

Visit the Pacific War Memorial Association's site for more information about the monument and getting your own personalized brick.

By Kristen Wong
Marine Corps Base Hawaii – Kaneohe Bay
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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