Hero of Iwo Jima to talk at Memorial Day services
Local veterans’ organizations are planning two special services this Memorial Day weekend to honor those who gave their lives in defense of liberty.
Major John Keith Wells, USMCR retired, will be the keynote speaker for events to be held at Rowe Cemetery and on the Courthouse Square.
Wells, a native of Hall County, commanded the most decorated infantry platoon to come out of a single engagement in the history of the United States as platoon leader of the 3rd Platoon, Easy Company, 28th Marines.
The author of the book Give Me Fifty Marines Not Afraid to Die, Wells attended Texas A&M before joining the Marines in 1942. He later commanded the men who raised the US flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, – an event that was immortalized by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in one of the most famous images of World War II.
Wells retired from Marine Corps Reserve in 1959 and now lives in Abilene.
Wells previously spoke here on July 4, 1996, during the dedication of the Donley County War Memorial.
The Adamson-Lane Post #287 of the American Legion will hold services at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial near the north entrance of Rowe Cemetery outside of Hedley.
Flags will adorn the graves of 199 veterans interred there, and the public is invited to attend this service, which will coincide with the dedication of the National World War II Memorial being dedicated in Washington, DC.
The Donley County Memorial Post 7782 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars will host its Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday at 10 a.m. at the Donley County War Memorial on the Courthouse Square. The public is invited and WWII veterans are extended a special invitation.
“We are extremely proud to have such a war hero as Major Wells here to assist us in honoring the veterans who gave their lives for our country,” said VFW District 9 Commander-elect Bill Holden. “We especially want to honor those who fought for our freedom and country during World War II. To have the commander of the men that raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi here is incredible.”
Other activities scheduled for this weekend include: • May 27 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. – the VFW and Friends of Donley County Veterans will decorate veterans’ graves at Citizens Cemetery, the Catholic cemetery, and the Odd Fellows cemetery; • May 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – the VFW Ladies Auxiliary will distribute “Buddy Poppy” war remembrance flowers throughout Clarendon; • May 28 at 4 p.m. – the American Legion will decorate the graves of veterans at Rowe Cemetery; • May 31 – VFW Ladies Auxiliary will distribute “Buddy Poppy” flowers around Clarendon; • and May 31 at 9 a.m. – the Girl Scouts will have a brief ceremony at Citizens Cemetery.
“The veterans of this community need the support of all free people to honor those who lost their lives for our freedom,” Holden said. “Let’s not let them down.”
Also, the Donley County Commissioners’ Court has adopted a resolution calling for everyone to take time this Memorial Day “to remember all who have defended in the past and are now defending America against tyranny and terrorism.”
The resolution further states “that it is the wish of all veterans of all conflicts that the future generations… come to understand the tremendous price each generation has paid for America’s and the world’s freedom.”