The 21st and 9th Regiments of the 3rd Marine Division had more than 10 days of bloody hand-to-hand combat on Iwo Jima in February 1945 and were on light duty and rest. The 3rd Regiment, in floating reserve off Iwo, took on wounded and buried the dead marines at sea.

Then we were ordered back to Guam to stop the remaining Japanese organized forces in the southern area of the island from attacking the people in the villages.

The 3rd Regiment, after two weeks of mopping up the remainder of the Japanese forces, was back in its own base.

Then the orders came: All six Marine Divisions would undergo more hard training because we were to spearhead the invasion of Japan’s homeland.

The Army Air Force had a big, new, silver-colored B-29 bomber that was stationed in the north of Guam. It flew every day to bomb Japan, as did B-29 bombers from the other Marianis Islands, Saipan and Tinian.

These flyboys were telling the Marines that we wouldn’t have to land on the Japanese homeland, because something big was going to happen. We just shook our heads and thought that maybe their reasoning was impaired by a lack of oxygen while they were flying.

Miracles do happen, however. The two atomic bombs that were dropped at the beginning of August on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the surrender of Japan on Aug. 15, 1945. The war was finally over.

I had two campaigns, Guam and Iwo Jima, which gave me enough points to be included in one of the first groups to be shipped home.

After the war was over, while the veterans were trying to adjust to civilian life, many people in our country and the world denounced the decision to drop the A-bombs because of their horrible destruction of people and anything else in their path.

While in my philosophy class at the University of Maine in Orono in 1948, our professor he made it clear that he thought the dropping of the A-bombs was inhuman and should never have been done.

Many of the students in his class were veterans, and we explained that many of us might not have made it if we had to invade Japan’s homeland. Our casualties probably would be about one million killed and wounded; the enemy would have suffered twice that.

Although we didn’t agree, we respected the other’s point of view. After all, we had just fought a war to keep our freedoms intact, including our freedom of speech.

Leroy E. Peasley, of Rockland, is a Marine Corps veteran of World War II. He was a member of the 3rd Marine Division and served from Jan. 6, 1943 to Jan. 1, 1946.

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