By RAY ELLIOTT
Special to The Messenger
Like thousands of other Fifth Division Marines, retired Union City businessman Ed Youngblood landed on Iwo Jima Feb. 19,1945.
Prior to leaving the island on March 26, Youngblood said he “stood among all of the crosses of the Fifth Marine Division in our cemetery” and pledged to all of his “Marine brothers, that as long as I lived, their deaths would never be forgotten, as I would remind all America of their sacrifices.”
And he has kept that promise throughout the last 66 years in a number of ways. But when he retired, he started a drive to erect a large, black, polished monument showing the flag raising, hand-etched by Georgia artist Zac Evans, on one side and engraved with words on the other side honoring the memory of the Marines who died on Iwo Jima and in other battles during World War II. The monument sits on the Obion County Courthouse grounds and was dedicated on Aug. 15, 2006.
A few months later, Youngblood started another drive to raise money for a smaller monument for the names of the 27 Medal of Honor recipients on Iwo Jima — 22 Marines, four Navy corpsmen and one Navy officer. Only one, Youngblood said, is still alive, Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia.
That monument, which Youngblood said was dedicated on Oct. 23, 2007, also sits on the courthouse grounds. Fifth Division Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lucas, the youngest man ever to receive the award, came from Hattiesburg, Miss., for the dedication with his wife, Ruby. He died on June 6, 2008,
Both monuments were featured in the February 2008 Leatherneck magazine.
Youngblood said he has worked for five years to “beautify the grounds” close to the monuments. Not quite finished with memorial projects for the courthouse grounds, he has initiated another drive. This will be his last, the 84-year-old man said. The plan is to erect three 3×5 flags (U.S., Tennessee and Marine Corps) close to the existing monuments; to purchase several sturdy benches to place at different locations on the courthouse grounds; and to purchase several tulip poplar trees in honor of all veterans — past, present and future.
Youngblood is still raising funds for those items and other things to beautify the courthouse grounds. Contributions may be made to the Iwo Jima Memorial Fund and mailed to Ed Youngblood, 1365 Webster St., Union City TN 38261.
Youngblood is currently recovering from a broken leg at Union City Manor and Rehab. Visits would be appreciated and cards may be mailed to him at Room 305, 1360 East Reelfoot Ave., Union City TN 38261.
Editor’s note: This article has been reprinted with permission from Spearhead News, the official publication of the Fifth Marine Division Association.
Published in The Messenger 5.28.12