Members of American Legion Post 2, the Iwo Jima Survivors Association and the Buffalo Soldiers from Hartford joined together Saturday at the Iwo Jima memorial in New Britain to honor the memory of 100 Connecticut soldiers who lost their lives in that World War II battle. The Legion will further honor their sacrifice this Sunday.
Feb. 19 marked the 76th anniversary of the first day of the U.S. invasion of Iwo Jima during World War II. On Feb. 20, a new wreath was placed on the Iwo Jima monument by the Buffalo Soldiers.
After the wreath was placed four members of the Buffalo Soldiers took turns ringing a bell after each name of those listed on the plaques were read. Each post on the fence that surrounds the monument holds one plaque with a single name of one soldier from Connecticut who lost their life in the battle for Iwo Jima.
Neal Supranovich, of American Legion Post 2, said this year due to covid-19 the Iwo Jima survivors were unable to hold a larger reunion at the memorial, accompanied there by a motorcycle escort, like they have done traditionally.
“The World War II veterans are all over 90 years old and at greater risk,” Supranovich said.
Thus, this year, a Facebook page “Iwo Jima 76th Anniversary Virtual Reunion” has been set up.
“The page will be putting up interviews with survivors,” Supranovich said.
The remembrance of Iwo Jima will continue at 1 p.m. this Sunday at American Legion Post 2 at 22 Hooker Court in Bristol. There, a flag that was raised after the battle will be raised up and flown for 30 days. Additionally, two local families will be presented with copies of the 2006 Clint Eastwood film “Flags of our Fathers,” which tells the story of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who were involved in raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
“In February 1945 a local boy, Joe Caminiti, took part in the Battle for the Island of Iwo Jima,” Supranovich said. “While he was there on Feb. 23 he was able to see the American Flag fly from atop Mt. Suribachi. On the 61st Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Joe attended the National Iwo Jima Survivor’s Reunion aboard the USS Iwo Jima docked at Norfolk, Va. Joe and some 200 fellow Iwo Jima Survivors, some with family members from across the nation, traveled to Norfolk, Va. There he was presented an American Flag, number 90 of 200 that flew over the Island of Iwo Jima that year.”
Following the 2019 Mum Festival, where all Bristol World War II veterans were named Home Town Hero, the flag was lent to the Iwo Jima/World War II Traveling Military Museum which was spearheading the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument for Connecticut. On Veterans Day 2020 it was revealed the monument will be built in Berlin.
“The Gold Star Family Memorial Monument Committee was formed by Hershel Woody Williams, the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima,” Supranovich said. “He seeks to establish a Gold Star Family Monument in each state to thank families for their enduring sacrifices and ensuring that fallen heroes are not forgotten.”
The flag was intended to fly at City Hall for 30 days upon its return. But due to City Hall being used as a covid-19 vaccine distribution site, it will fly at American Legion Post 2 instead. It will then be turned over to the Memorial Military Museum.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or .