Reposting from http://www.roanoke.com/community/swoco/wwii-iwo-jima-veteran-from-botetourt-county-to-speak-at/article_675b06b0-4340-5ee5-b437-237e48fa8709.html
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 8:00 am
“The Japanese let us get ashore and we thought ‘this is going to be a cakewalk.’ We were on the beach two hours before all hell broke loose.”
As Memorial Day approaches, Carlos Showalter will share his experiences of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest South Pacific battles of World War II, during the Rescue Mission’s chapel services on Tuesday, May 19.
Showalter was an 18-year-old line sergeant with Marine Company C-1-23, which suffered a 94 percent casualty rate at Iwo Jima. When it was all over, “We only had 16 men who were non-casualties,” said Showalter. “By the grace of God, I was one of them.”
Feb. 19 marked the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Marine landing on the beach at Iwo Jima, a tiny volcanic island that the Japanese were using as an airbase. Seven thousand Marines lost their lives during the five weeks of fighting. Showalter said his Charlie Company lost 67 who were either wounded or killed on the first day.
Showalter spent four years in the military and has dedicated an entire room of his historic Botetourt County farmhouse to paying homage to the U.S. Marines, and especially Charlie Company. He recalls numbers of casualties and faces and names of fallen comrades as if the battles in which they fought had happened yesterday.
Now a retired salesman who will turn 90 years old Memorial Day weekend, Showalter has three children, five grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. He has spent much of his life traveling on mission trips to more than 40 countries with his pastor at Roanoke’s Shenandoah Baptist Church.
“I always thought about the Gold Star families that sent a son off to war and that son didn’t come back. And that family doesn’t have grandchildren,” he said. “It’s important that we remember.”
Showalter and others from Shenandoah Baptist will be leading chapel services on the 19th. Women’s chapel begins at 6:30, and men’s chapel is at 7:45.
For more information about the Rescue Mission, visit www.rescuemission.net, or call 343-7227.
Submitted by Tracy Altizer