Marines we know asked us to note the passing this week of 1st Lt. John Wells, holder of the Navy Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions on a battle ravaged island called Iwo Jima in 1945.
Wells led the Marines of 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in cracking a series of hardened defenses at the base of Mt. Suribachi during the brutal fight for the island in February, 1945.
Wounded several times and eventually forcibly evacuated to an offshore hospital ship, he returned to the island to rejoin his men days after officers and men under his command crested the heavily defended mountaintop and raised the first of two flags that would immortalize the action and seal the name of the island in the memories of Marines and the nation forever.
From his Navy Cross citation:
When ordered to attack across open terrain and dislodge the enemy from a series of strongly-defended pillboxes and blockhouses at the base of Mount Suribachi, First Lieutenant Wells placed himself in the forefront of his platoon and, leading his men forward in the face of intense hostile machine-gun, mortar and rifle fire, continuously moved from one flank to the other to lead assault groups one by one in their attacks on Japanese emplacements.
Wells continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve after the war, retiring as a major in 1959. He died this week at a care facility in Arvada, Colorado.