Monday, September 16, 2019
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20190327 Red Hats Iwo jima Tour Lilly 2The Rio Grande Valley Red Hat Queen’s Council enjoyed its final outing of the year visiting the Iwo Jima Memorial in Harlingen. The ladies met at 10 a.m. to tour the museum and see the artifacts of the battle on display including weapons used in the battle, Japanese flags brought home by marines who fought in the battle, and pictures of the Medal of Honor winners who fought at Iwo Jima. Afterward, they watched a documentary that recounted the famous battle.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought February 19 through March 26, 1945. The purpose of the battle was to capture the two islands to use as a staging area for the invasion of Japan by Allied troops. The Japanese had built airfields on the islands the Allies hoped to use for landing and refueling in the planned invasion.

The Japanese had built underground tunnels on the island and almost all their soldiers were inside the tunnels shooting through open portals. This resulted in heavy American casualties going ashore. The Japanese fought to the last man and of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on Iwo Jima, at the end of the long battle only 216 were captured. The remainder were casualties of the battle.

One of the most noted features of the battle was the photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of Associated Press depicting Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. One of the men in the picture was Corporal Harlon Block of Weslaco, Texas who lost his life later during the prolonged battle.

Sculptor Felix de Weldon later spent years creating a memorial statue based on Rosenthal’s picture. The sculpture is now located in Arlington, Virginia near the National Cemetery located on a high ridge overlooking the capital. To do this he built a base statue used as a model for the Virginia statue. This model was later bronzed and placed on the campus of Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.

With his family’s permission, Block’s body was moved to the base of the memorial in Harlingen where visitors may pay tribute to this brave Marine and others who fought in this battle and all battles everywhere.

The Iwo Jima Museum and Memorial are located at 320 Iwo Jima Drive in Harlingen, just west of the airport.

Admission is free. For more information call (956) 412-2207.

In other action the queens met at Colleta’s in downtown Harlingen for lunch. Linda Howath of Go with Jo Tours came to talk to the ladies about the planned Caribbean cruise. The cruise is a seven-night cruise out of Galveston on Royal Caribbean on March 1, 2020. It will visit Cozumel and Costa Del Playa, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras.

Howath assured ladies their deposits were fully refundable until December and that the price includes medical insurance in cases of illness. Howath said she was keeping options open through the summer in case others decide they want to go. For more information about the cruise, call Howath at (956) 423-1446.

Jan Bergman announced the annual Festival of Tables will be held February 19 at Trophy Gardens in Alamo. Persons willing to decorate tables for the event should call Bergman at (956) 532-1223 or (956) 781-8485.

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