Memo­rial a day to re­mem­ber

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

FOR­MER World War II US Ma­rine medic and Wood­lands res­i­dent Jack Fletcher (90) had pride of place at the 151st Memo­rial Day, Amer­ica’s equiv­a­lent to An­zac Day, at King’s Park yes­ter­day. A Texan, Mr Fletcher joined the US Marines aged just 17 before spend­ing 37 months in the Pa­cific War against Ja­pan, in­clud­ing the cap­ture of Guam where half of his 1st Bat­tal­ion and all his fel­low medics were killed in the first hour of fight­ing. Dur­ing five weeks of fight­ing in 1945, he and 17 medic com­rades were all that were left from a com­pany of 88 on the 21sq km Iwo Jima is­land where the US lost 6800 men, with about 19,000 wounded, and the Ja­panese lost al­most all of a 21,000strong gar­ri­son. Mr Fletcher was posted to Ja­pan af­ter atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Na­gasaki. A for­mer agri­cul­ture con­sul­tant and North-West cat­tle farmer, he moved to Perth 50 years ago and now has seven grand­chil­dren and nine great-grand­chil­dren in WA.

“It was only 10 years ago I talked him into talk­ing about his WWII ex­pe­ri­ences, and he now lays wreaths for An­zac and Memo­rial days and can re­mem­ber the name of every guy who was with him,” grand­son Jim Fletcher said.

US Memo­rial Day com­mem­o­rates the 1.3 mil­lion dead and wounded of all Amer­ica’s con­flicts. The first Memo­rial Day was held three years af­ter US Pres­i­dent Abraham Lin­coln’s fa­mous Get­tys­burg Ad­dress in 1863 to re­mem­ber those who died in the US Civil War.

Scotch Col­lege bag­pipers led Aus­tralian and US rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing for­mer Aus­tralian am­bas­sador to the US Kim Bea­z­ley, in re­mem­ber­ing the al­liance be­tween the two na­tions.

“I de­liver the Get­tys­burg Ad­dress be­cause it is sup­posed to be the in­spi­ra­tion for the first Memo­rial Day,” North Amer­ica Vet­eran’s Unit pres­i­dent Michael Mun­jac (74), a US Navy lieu­tenant 1964 to 1973, said.

“It’s a silent cer­e­mony and we have mes­sages from the US Con­sulate, Pres­i­dent Barak Obama, Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull, and a keynote ad­dress from our most se­nior of­fi­cer Cap­tain Michael Don­nelly, so we don’t for­get.”.

Pic­tures: Jon Bas­sett

Jack Fletcher with great-grand­son Hay­den Fletcher and grand­son Jim Fletcher. For­mer US Ma­rine Jack Fletcher at USA Memo­rial Day yes­ter­day.

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