Ira Hayes

“News from the Hut”
for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham

Finally, we had enough of a reprieve from the weather that our group re-banded, regrouped, and got a focus on where we are on things. We had a great showing February 20, although our fearless leader was out attending the Marine Corp Annual Ira Hayes- Iwo Jima Memorial Parade meeting, in Casa Grande Arizona.  In retrospect, I think of some of the “jarheads” I have known over my thirty years of service and one comes to mind.  He is a local, Vietnam Veteran  that preceded me in my unit as the Top Rank.  His experience, humility and crazy sense of humor drew my great respect as we served.  He gave me his nod to fill his gap as he passed the torch of leadership at our Squadron.  He was a mentor, I learned much from him. I hope he sees this and thinks about dropping in sometime for a cup of Joe, though back in our day there might have been a bit of the dew.

Speaking of Ira Hayes, for those not familiar with his story here is a bit of an overview.  On February 23, 1945, he helped to raise an American flag and flagstaff over Mount SuriBachi, on Iwo Jima, an event photographed by the Associated Press.  Hayes and the other five flag-raisers became national heroes as a result of Rosenthal’s flag raising photograph.  In 1946, he was instrumental in revealing the true identity of one of the Marines in the flag raising photograph who was killed in action on Iwo Jima.  He was never comfortable with his new-found fame, however, and after his service in the Marine Corps, he descended into alcohalism.  He died of exposure to cold and alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking on January 23–24, 1955.  He was buried with full military honors at Arlington Nation Cemetary, February 2, 1955.  His story is a reminder of the effects that remain after wars finish and the price that our heroes continue to pay.  As a boy, I first heard of Ira in 1965 when Johnny Cash sang the “Ballad of Ira Hayes”.

We had great news this meeting, the community and undisclosed individuals have exceeded all expectations (not that we don’t need a bit more) in fundraising.  We are approaching the place we need to complete the Heating / AC work for the Hut.  Thanks to Cleveland Concrete for the materials donations, our soldiers for putting hand to the shovel, we now have our pad and are on our way.  We have the donated time of a few dependable men who will be discussed in later articles; so the materials are all that remains and the fundraisers plus donations have us there.  Add to that, we are half way to putting in a new light system I think fixing up the backside of the Post remains one of our last priorities.  We love our community and you all have been terrific!  But please…keep being terrific.

Tonight was special, great camaraderie, great story telling.  Me, I’m the newbie, I didn’t grow up here as my esteemed author predecessor as well did not either.  But I hear these stories of interactions with the veteran’s and this community, your treasures going back to the 30’s and I wonder; who captures this?  Who understands what is transpiring. History passes.  I guess that why I am the Historian.  I guess I need to knuckle down (for new kids, work harder).  I promise to be more diligent.

Our regular meetings are the first and third Thursdays at 7:00 PM (March 6th) if weather does not present a challenge.  Our Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for Feb- March is up and running again as normal starting around 0700 till about 0900 if weather is above freezing and hospitable.  Eli and Jerry usually have things set up where we can catch up on each others mischief and story telling.  If you are a veteran come on by.  If you have a good story, it may end up in print!

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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