Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday

 Ira Hamilton Hayes
Corporal, USMC
Do you recognize this man? Or even his name? You have seen him before! I am certain you have. Everyone has. But may not have looked closely enough, or long enough to realize it. Allow me to introduce you.
Ira was born 12 January 1923, on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Sacaton, Arizona. Ira left school and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves on August 24, 1942, at the tender age of 19.

After completing recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Ira Hayes trained as a paratrooper at Marine Corps Base San Diego and was nicknamed "Chief Falling Cloud." On December 2, 1942, he joined Company B, 3rd Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, 3rd Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California. On March 14, 1943, Hayes sailed for New Caledonia with the 3rd Parachute Battalion. Hayes first saw combat on Bougainville. He returned home briefly on leave, after which his family said years afterward he was "a changed man, more serious."
The Marine Corps parachute units were disbanded in February, and Ira Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. From September 1944, Hayes sailed to Hawaii for further training.

Ira Hayes was promoted to the rank of Corporal before being discharged from the US Marine Corps. His decorations and medals include the following:
    * American Campaign Medal.
    * Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars.
    * Navy Commendation Medal with "V" combat device.
    * Presidential Unit Citation with one star.
    * World War II Victory Medal.
He was honored at The White House for his service and he tried diligently to go back to his life. But the Press and his conscience would not let him alone.
After the war;
Ira appeared in the 1949 John Wayne Movie "The Sands Of Iwo Jima." But Success can test a man's mettle more thoroughly than any enemy.  He felt guilty for surviving the Second World War's Pacific campaign, while so many of  his friends did not. Ira was arrested for drunkeness on 55 separate occasions. Referring to his drinking, he once said: "I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they're not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me."
In 1954, after a ceremony where he was lauded by President Eisenhower as a hero, a reporter rushed up to him and asked him, "How do you like the pomp and circumstance?" Hayes hung his head and said, "I don't."
Hayes' disquiet about his unwanted fame and his subsequent postwar problems were first recounted in detail by the author William Bradford Huie in "The Outsider", published in 1959 as part of his collection "Wolf Whistle and Other Stories." The Outsider was made into a film in 1961. It has since been suggested that Ira may have suffered from PTSD.

On January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead, face down and lying in his own vomit and blood, near an abandoned hut close to his home on the Gila River Indian Reservation. He had been drinking and playing cards with several other men, including his brothers Kenny and Vernon, and another fellow Pima Indian named Henry Setoyant, with whom an argument developed during which the two men scuffled. Shortly afterward, the card game broke up, and all but Hayes and Setoyant left. The coroner concluded that Hayes's death was due to both exposure and alcohol. However, his brother Kenny remained convinced that the death somehow resulted from the scuffle with Setoyant. There was no police investigation, and Setoyant denied any allegations that he scuffled with Hayes after all the players left for the night. Ira Hayes was 32.

Hayes is buried in Section 34, Grave 479A at Arlington National Cemetery. At the funeral, his friend Rene Gagnon said of him: "Let's say he had a little dream in his heart that someday the Indian would, like the white man — be able to walk all over the United States."

His story has been shown in film. He played himself in 1949s The Sands Of Iwo Jima.
He was played by fellow USMC Corporal Lee Marvin in 1960s The American.
He was portrayed by Tony Curtis in 1961s The Outsider.
Ira was played by Adam Beach, in the 2006 Clint Eastwood directed movie Flags Of Our Fathers.
And still you don't know who Ira Hayes was? Or where you may have seen him before now?
I have placed a red oval around Ira Hayes in the picture below, that made him famous.

This picture was taken by a war corespondent on top of the battle scared Mount Suribachi, on The Japanese held island of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. I know you've seen this picture before. This battle raged from 19 February to 26 March 1945. Approximately 17,792 Japanese soldiers died. And 216 were taken prisoner. The Marines lost 6,821 dead. And 19,217 wounded during the 35 days of Operation Detachment.
Ira Hayes left his heart on the Sulfur Island. And became an unofficial casualty of the Battle Of Iwo Jima. And we owe Ira Hayes and his family a THANK YOU. For the sacrifice they laid on the altar of our freedom.


Ms. Anthropy said...

Beautiful tribute!

My ADHD Me said...

That is heartbreaking.
I had made up my mind to do a few posts on heroes that ended up in such predicament. Such as my post on Admiral Stockdale. I true American hero who will be remembered by many by his discombobulated mutterings at the vice president debate. Thank really is a shame,

2Thinks said...

Had I met you earlier, I'd have asked you to be my children's history teacher. Gosh you post interesting stuff.


My ADHD Me said...

Simian Proclivities- lol
OK, honestly, it was only lol after I looked up proclivities on :)

My ADHD Me said...

P.S. Knowing your "love" (not) for county music, not sure if you knew that Johnny Cash did a song The Ballad of Ira Hayes. He took it to #3 on the charts.

Blasé said...

ps- I counted them. Didn't take as long as you might think. And, congrats!

My ADHD Me said...

Yes, me again. Just got caught up on your past few posts. Don't know how I missed so many.
They were some of your best. Comments left. Well, except for the billion one. Then comments right. (ouch)

Webster World said...

Great man sad story. Yes I've known of Ira for some time. I reseached him after hearing Johrry Cash sing of him. Having 1/8 blood it is of interest to me.

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