That's why I said I went overboard..... not many Marines get to go to Iwo Jima, from what I understand, people only go for the ceremonies. Although, there are a couple of care takers that live on the island. She said that they just left a lot of the stuff there... jeeps completely overgrown, ordnance, etc. ALL of the survivors wanted to walk up Suribachi for the ceremony. Which meant they had to be helped or in some cases carried up. I guess they were all standing in one line and wanted to go up with her. LOL After the ceremony though, everyone rode down. I guess where ever she was, all of the survivors were and she wonders if that didn't irritate the other Marines there. She'd sit down for dinner and then all the survivors would be around her. She got to hear all of the stories because they would circle around her and the other Marines would have to stand outside the circle. They asked her if she had siblings and she said a sister and told them that she is a rappeller on a Forest Service helitack crew. A couple didn't know what that was but once she explained that she is a wildland firefighter and rappels out of helicopters into forest fire starts, they were all "how bad ass is your dad" and she told them it was actually our mom. I have a picture somewhere of her taking a picture of a note that said I was definitely a Marine mom and the baddest of the bad asses and everyone signed it.
While she was there, she got a 2 liter bottle of the black sand and looking at it you can immediately tell why it jammed all of the weapons. She didn't notice but she had picked up an unspent bullet. When she came home that Christmas, that sand was in her carry on, as it was to valuable to her to pack in her luggage. That's when they found the bullet.. LOL almost missed her flight from Oki to the mainland. I have a bottle of the black sand with the Eagle, Globe and Anchor etched on the front and the Iwo Jima statue on the back. As much as that means to me, the bottle of sand I have from Oki means more. My grandfather fought on Oki during WWII and my dad spent several weeks before and after going to Vietnam at Oki for processing. Again, the bottle has the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on the front and on the back lists my grandpa's name and when he was there (earned a bronze star), my dad's name and when he was there (he earned a silver star) and her name and the start of when she was stationed on Oki.
When she came stateside, she was stationed at Miramar. Off duty, she loved running around San Diego wearing her Boise State shirts, hats, shorts, etc. and she sometimes caught crap for it. My grandson was born at Pendleton (they call him a Searine - like liger, if you get what I mean). Her only complaint was there were a couple of one way roads (or maybe just one) cut into the hillside and every time she had a big truck, she would always run into a tank on the same road and most of the time had to back up. But a couple of times she was far enough a long, she made the tank back up.