Local veteran remembers Battle of Iwo Jima; 70 years ago

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Marietta, Okla. Frank McKay was only 19 years old when he fought in World War II.
He said the war needed Navy men and even though his father didn't want him to join, he went anyway.

McKay was aboard the USS Mifflin when he was ordered to the shore of Iwo Jima for almost a week.
On Tuesday he recalled the day his crew landed on Iwo Jima 70 years ago.

"February the 19th,1945," McKay said.

McKay's beach party landed on Yellow Beach 2 off the east shore of Iwo Jima early that morning.
McKay's tasks were to offload priority items and take casualties on board.

"About daylight that morning we were one of the first ones hit on yellow beach two,” McKay said. “Then we unloaded them and went back, grabbed another, unloaded and then went back and started holding casualties."

But his beach party ended up getting hit hard the first day, with 14 sailors wounded and three missing.

"There was 26 of the landing boats and I think 11 of us survived it," McKay said.

There were 6,800 American servicemen killed in the battle of Iwo Jima and more than 250 bodies were recovered by McKay's ship.
The United States mission was to seize Japanese airfields.

"These planes were flying from Saipan to Japan and we were at Saipan, and they would come in just one wing (and) one motor, that is how much gas they had left," McKay said.

Winning the battle of Iwo Jima provided the U.S. with a vital landing location for bomber planes.
McKay said their code words when a soldier needed help were the names and types of cars.

"So he is hollering ‘Studebaker,’ we went and got him and carried him to the ship and quickly got him in the boat and we looked and they were raising that flag," McKay said.

McKay said he was happy to see the American flag raised, but he felt too many lives were lost.

"Well, I was glad we was winnin’, but gosh it was a terrible price to pay," McKay said.

According to the National World War II Museum website, 20,000 servicemen were wounded in the battle of Iwo Jima, which lasted about 36 days.
About a year after the battle, McKay returned home to Marietta, Oklahoma, where he got married and had four kids.