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Tales From World War II
by the men who served from Cass County, Nebraska





By William Pearsley
NOTE: William Pearsley, (born in 1903) was 38 when he enlisted to serve in the CB's during World War II. He told the following story:

We went into Iwo Jima very soon after the island was taken. Our job was to rebuild the airstrip as fast as we could. The heat was suffocating, the stench of decaying bodies was nearly unbearable, and we knew there were still pockets of enemy soldiers out there waiting to pick us off, so security was tight.

About the second or third night, I was posted to guard duty. Sometime late into the night, I observed a light flash on, then off. It was back in the hills about a mile and a half, as I judged it, from our camp. A few minutes later it flashed on, stayed on for about a minute and then disappeared. This happened a few more times, so I called the chief on duty and asked what he thought.

"Well," said the chief, scratching his head, "could be some Jap signaling to a sub off shore." We watched the light flash on and off several more times with no discernable pattern. Finally, the chief organized three of us to go take a look. Mind you, the night was pitch black and there was a slight mist over the area. We crawled on our bellies in total silence, inching our way over the sand, through underbrush, around dead bodies, and up small inclines. Mosquitos swarmed around taking their fill because we dared not slap at them. It took over three hours to go that mile and a half, and all the way I kept thinking, "This is some sort of Japanese trap to lure a few of us out here where they can kill us."

Finally, we bellied our way over the last small rise and arrived at a low cliff near the area where the light had been sighted. Of course, the light was no longer there, but we three decided to wait a few minutes anyway. We hunkered down and watched. Soon the wet sea breeze came up and the wall before us lit up. "Will you look at that?!" one of our guys breathed. "It's phosphorous! When the wet sea air hits it, it glows. When the breeze dies down, it goes dark." We all chuckled with relief, but we still had to crawl on our bellies all the way back to camp.
copyright: Julia Ryden


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Last Modified on:Sunday, 02-Mar-2014 14:18:32 MST