by James Stockton
In the cold, clear light of dawn
flashes of guns in early morn,
smoke hangs in clouds about our heads
the island shakes with trembling great,
on this black sand we will meet our fate
to live or join the ranks of the dead,
we know not if we are to live
or if we'll lie beneath the sand,
forever roaming this shell-shocked isle
to be entombed with the ranks of the damned.
We care not for worldly praise
or memorials in halls of fame,
we fight for life amid the smoky haze
to protect the honor of our name,
we see our friends go down in blood
we try to stem that crimson flood,
for all we know, e'er dawn will come
death will stalk among our lines,
stealing through the pock-marked sands
to lay a heavy hand upon our brow.
The sound of gunfire on our flanks. . .
they came upon us in the night
with fires of Hell on every hand,
on to meet them, men, we're with the right
"On to the sea!" the cry goes up,
we've pushed the devils off the rocks,
they'll have to fight or swim and die
in payment for their past mistakes.
The firing lifts
the battle's won,
we're going home
'mid sound of drums,
we think not of all the glory
or the history that's been made,
we think of our friends;
for them, "No Story". . .
A mound of coral is their grave,
they have died "But not in vain,"
we vow as we breathe a prayer,
may their restless spirits now have peace
with their dreams that ended there,
may these live on in hearts of men
who love their freedom now
and sons that live to carry on
preserve the right they died to win.
* * *
The author: James Stockton was a gunner with C Co., 5thTkBn, 5thMarDiv on Iwo Jima Feb-Mar 1945, as well as other posts throughout the Corps during a 20-year stint.