Marine Telephones Work on Iwo Jima

This the Transcription was submitted by Leah McKin, Friday, June 29, 2007.

From the “Santa Cruz Sentinel” (Santa Cruz, California), Tuesday, 13 March 1945, p. 5

Marine Telephones Work on Iwo Jima

By Hamilton Faron

With the Fifth Marine Division, Iwo Jima, Feb. 25 (Delayed) (AP)–A telephone system comparable to that in the average town of 65,000 population in the United States grew from nothing in the first five days ashore on this little island in the Volcano group.

Signal corps men operating under heavy artillery fire, harassed by snipers, laid more than 700 miles of telephone lines.

Those lines, said Lieut. W. K. Rogers, Jackson, Miss., reached so far into the fighting areas that “we could talk with the Japs if they would put their phones into the switchboard.” They did just that on some occasions, but merely to eavesdrop or to tangle American communications.

Nearly two score telephone exchanges and more than 200 sub exchanges were tied in with the two central switchboards. Backstopping the telephonic communications were scores of radio equipped jeeps, hand radio set and other transmitters and receivers.

Maintenance was carried out under fire by a staff under direction of Tech. Sgt. John C. Wayne, Baltimore, Md., who told of some of his “men fighting snipers and pillboxes to keep the wire in service.

One example of fighting to lay lines is the story of Marine Pvt. Robert P. Hann, Spokane, Wash. As told by Maj. Howard M. Conner, Paterson, N.J.

“Hann,” he related, “was assigned to laying a line to the 28th marines at the foot of Suribachi (extinct volcano that was one of the most heavily fortified positions). He picked up a BAR (Browning automatic rifle) as did most of the linemen and started out. Before he had gone far he ran into sniper and machine gun fire. Hann dropped his line and went to work with his rifle. He cleaned out two groups of Japs [sic] then went ahead and laid the line.”

Radio repairmen under the direction of Marine Gunner Hubert Thomas, Knob Lick, Mo., also were praised by Conner for their job in keeping “shot up” sets in working condition.

In the big repair shop set up in dugouts while shells still were falling all about, 126 sets were reconditioned and returned to service during the first five days of the invasion.

Boosting morale of the entire signal group, was “Tim,” a black Belgian shepherd dog. Tim has been used many times to deliver messages to forward posts, but his proudest accomplishment is laying wire. A small harness has been devised which permits him to carry a reel of light telephone wire.

“He’s always calm under fire now,” said Conner, “and knows when to jump into his own foxhole.”

Tim also knows how to ferret out snipers if they begin to harass his master, Cpl. Charles F. Hablesreither, Santa Monica, Calif.

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