From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 6 - May 8, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

A Historic Comparison

by Monte Skinner

This article is about the differences in two battles held 58 years apart-the Battle of Iwo Jima and Iraqi Freedom. I am writing this in memory of my cousin, Boyd Skinner USMC, who was killed on March 10, 1945, on Iwo Jima.

1945: Those who study history know it was necessary to acquire the island, Iwo Jima, so that the B29 bombers that were bombing Japan would have a chance to land in case they could not make it back to their home bases. The island of Iwo Jima is located midway between Tokyo and Mariana Islands (Saipan), the nearest USA-held bases. History shows that this was a wise decision, although the cost in lives was high.

2003: Only time will tell if Iraqi Freedom was a wise decision.

1945: Planning for this engagement against the Japanese-held island started in mid-summer 1944 with the invasion set for mid-February 1945.

2003: Only time will tell.

1945: By the second week of February, a quarter-million men of the Marines, Navy and Army were poised for the invasion against 20,000 Japanese defenders. In the task force of the Navy there were 485 ships - from battleships and aircraft carriers to the smallest ships, excluding thousand of landing crafts.

2003: The main battles would be fought by the Fourth Marine Division and Fifth Marine Division, with the Third Marine Division in reserve.

1945: Estimated time by the high command to secure the island would be 10 days. The engagement lasted 35 days before the island was declared secure.

2003: The Bush Administration first said four days - nothing changes.

1945: Total casualties:

Killed in actionWoundedCombatFatigueTotal
Navy Units6331,5821,791
Medical Corpsman195529724
Doctors and Dentists21237
Army units in battle92837
Grand total6,82119,2172,64828,686
Japanese Casualties at Iwo JimaPrisonersKilled

2003: Thank God there weren't the casualties there were in 1945.

1945: One big difference between the conflicts of 1945 and 2003 was how parents and families of military personnel killed in action or missing in action were notified.

During World War II, news did not travel swiftly, as it has in the Iraqi conflict. Boyd Skinner was killed in action on March 10, 1945. However, the family of Boyd Skinner did not receive word about him until they received a telegram dated April 25, 1945, which indicated that he was missing in action. The last day of the engagement was March 26. The next telegram, dated May 10, 1945, informed the family that Boyd was killed in action on March 10, 1945. A final letter from a Marine Chaplain which confirmed Boyd's death was dated June 25, 1945.

2003: The age of modern war you stand a chance of seeing a friend or relative dying on the television screen.

1945: Television wasn't around for World War II. As a former veteran who served in the Navy in the South Pacific, I am glad that the people back home didn't have to see the horrible things that happened in those battles. Like many of the Marines killed in Iwo Jima, whose bodies were blown apart and unidentifiable, Boyd Skinner's body was never found or buried.

In 1949, the American Legion named the Pinedale airport for Ralph Wenz, who was killed in World War II, and the Pinedale City Park for Boyd Skinner. To this day, the city has continued to recognize the airport as the Ralph Wenz Memorial Airport. In Boyd's memory, there is a stone marker with a plaque with Boyd's name on it by the fish pond. For some reason, the city hasn't called it anything but the city park. I would like to see my cousin Boyd memorialized as was originally intended by local government by calling the city park "Boyd Skinner City Park." By appropriately honoring his service to his country, we honor all servicemen and women's service to their country.

I would like a little recognition for a veteran who died for his country many years ago.

(Editor's note: Pinedale Mayor Rose Skinner has agreed to speak with fellow Pinedale Town Council members about re-dedicating the Boyd Skinner Memorial Park during their Monday evening council meeting.)

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