Remembering Iwo Jima

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Joe Chipman of Manila (left) presents World War II Veteran Bob Rothfus of Hardy with a gift in recognition of his service.

A long time ago and far away from home is a time and place remembered by World War II veteran Bob Rothfus of Hardy. Rothfus was a senior in high school in 1941 when the Hawaiian Island of Oahu came under attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy. That attack on Pearl Harbor, and the rest of the island, left over 5,000 people dead or wounded.

Following his high school graduation, Rothfus answered the nation's call and enlisted in the Marine Corps leaving his little family-farm in Carlisle, Iowa.

Like everyone else in America, his life was put on hold until the fate of the war's outcome would be determined.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 1945, Rothfus, with the Marine Corps Fifth Division, stormed the beaches of the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima in the Western Pacific. What then ensued was one of the fiercest battles on record, where in just a few short days, 5,900 Americans died and more than 17,000 were left wounded.

Throughout the years since the war's end, each year on Memorial Day Rothfus takes pause to honor the service of men and women who gave their lives fighting to preserve the liberties and freedom America was founded upon.

Rothfus moved from Iowa to make his life in Arkansas in 1968. Somewhere along the way, he met and became good friends with Joe Chipman of Manila.

This past Memorial Day weekend Chipman paid a visit to his friend's lake-front home in Hardy where he showed his appreciation to his friend by presenting Rothfus with a framed poster he created displaying four, 3-cent postage stamps and a written narrative explaining the history of the stamps. The stamps are original and have never been used. They depict the raising of the American Flag by U.S. Marines on Feb. 23, 1945, high atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima.

Chipman saw the stamps on Ebay and thought it would be a great tribute and a way to honor his friend's military service.

The narrative included in the frame tells about the stamp and how the original idea was rejected by the U.S. Postal Service because “it violated the standing policy that no postage stamp would be issued depicting persons still living.”

However, because of great demand from the public, it was decided to go ahead with the “Iwo Jima” stamps. The stamp went on sale in July of 1945 and for many years to follow would be the best selling stamp of all time.

According to Chipman, during his research he learned this iconic photograph is one of the most reproduced images in history. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was awarded the Pultizer Prize for Photography for capturing the historical event on film which is now preserved forever in the hearts and minds of all Americans.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate and reflect upon these things and to remember all the brave souls who have given their lives for the love of their country.

Rothfus expressed his appreciation to Chipman for the gift and for his friendship.

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