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USS Pennsylvania Firing At The Iwo Jima Landing

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Retired Navy Lt. Cy Young,speaks at a Iwo Jima Survivors Reunion. Young was founder of the reunion sponsored by the Iwo Jima Survivor's Association of Texas.(Photo: TORIN HALSEY/TIMES RECORD NEWS)Buy Photo

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Greatest Generation veteran and Bowie native Cecil V. "Cy" Young died March 25 at age 97.

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Founder and past president of the national Iwo JIma Survivors Association, Young organized an annual Iwo JIma Survivors Reunion in Wichita Falls. In civilian life Young is best remembered as a high school teacher and football and track coach.

Family visitation will be at 1 p.m. today at White Family Funeral Home in Bowie; funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. Young will be laid to rest with full military honors at Bowie Cemetery.

After earning his bachelor's degree at Abilene Christian College and coaching at St. Jo High School for a year, Young joined the Navy after the Pearl Harbor attack. Having completed boot camp and further training, he was promoted to lieutenant.

Young was assigned to be a boat officer on the USS Carteret, a troop transport ship which lowered landing craft near the Iwo Jima beaches. The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted Feb 19- March 26, 1945.

Part of the mission was also to to release smoke screens to cover hospital ships from air attacks.

"It was quite an experience. We had to cut off the motor and you'd drift sometimes in the wrong direction and we were afraid to start the motor," Young told Shawnee Brittan at the 1999 reunion. The interview became part of Brittan's award-winning documentary, "Uncommon Valor: The Battle of Iwo JIma."

Young had a great commitment to the Iwo Jima Survivors Reunion and the opportunity it gave World War II veterans to tell others about their service. He built a network with veterans and their families.

"At least once a week I get a letter or call saying "My dad has passed away," Young said in a 2003 Times Record News interview. "We would be totally out of our duty if we did not stop to remember them more than this one time a year. It is the only way our Iwo Jima veterans will be remembered."

During the 2003 reunion Young spoke to high school students "who had never seen the name Iwo Jima in a history book." He explained that more than 1 million Americans are descendants of Iwo Jima veterans.

After the war Young completed his master's degree at the University of North Texas and returned to his career as coach and teacher. He went on to become founder and president of the Bowie Education Foundation and Montague County Retired Teachers Association, where he was legislative chairman.

In the reunion's heyday, veterans of the island campaign enjoyed a number of special stops on their visit to Wichita Falls and were treated to a barbecue dinner and a USO show. One tradition of the reunion was a recreation of the famous raising of the flag at the top of Mount Surubachi by six U.S Marines.  The moment was captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press.  The image later inspired a statue that was erected in Arlington, Virginia.  The photograph and statue became  iconic images of the battle and the American war effort in the Pacific.

Among the regular attendees was Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams. Williams was a 21-year-old Marine corporal who volunteered to take out an enemy entrenchment that was keeping Americans from advancing.  The West Virginia native repeatedly made his way through enemy fire with a bulky flamethrower to clear concrete pillboxes where the Japanese were firing on American troops.

Though initially aimed at Iwo Jima veterans, as their numbers dwindled, the group opened the reunion to all World War II vets, attracting survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the kamikaze attack on the USS Saratoga, among others.

The fighting on Iwo Jima was among the most intense of the war.  The government estimated there were 26,000 U.S., including 6,800 dead.  The toll among the Japanese defenders was higher, though.  Of about 21,000 Japanese on the island, about 18,000 died.  Only 216 were taken prisoner.

Memorials to Young may be made to the Bowie Education Foundation in care of Legend Bank, 101 W. Tarrant St., Bowie, Texas 76230 or a charity of choice.


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Source : http://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2017/03/30/iwo-jima-survivor-left-historical-legacy/99832192/

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