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Marine Telephones Work on Iwo Jima
Contributed by Leah McKin

From the "Santa Cruz Sentinel" (Santa Cruz, California),
Tuesday, 13 March 1945, p. 5

Marine Telephones Work on Iwo Jima

By Hamilton Faron

With the Fifth Marine Division, Iwo Jima, Feb. 25 (Delayed) (AP)--
A telephone system comparable to that in the average town of 65,000
population in the United States grew from nothing in the first five
days ashore on this little island in the Volcano group.

Signal corps men operating under heavy artillery fire, harassed by
snipers, laid more than 700 miles of telephone lines.

Those lines, said Lieut. W. K. Rogers, Jackson, Miss., reached so far
into the fighting areas that "we could talk with the Japs if they would
put their phones into the switchboard."  They did just that on some
occasions, but merely to eavesdrop or to tangle American communications.

Nearly two score telephone exchanges and more than 200 sub exchanges
were tied in with the two central switchboards.  Backstopping the
telephonic communications were scores of radio equipped jeeps, hand
radio set and other transmitters and receivers.

Maintenance was carried out under fire by a staff under direction of
Tech. Sgt. John C. Wayne, Baltimore, Md., who told of some of his "men
fighting snipers and pillboxes to keep the wire in service.

One example of fighting to lay lines is the story of Marine Pvt. Robert P. Hann,
Spokane, Wash. As told by Maj. Howard M. Conner, Paterson, N.J.

"Hann," he related, "was assigned to laying a line to the 28th marines at
the foot of Suribachi (extinct volcano that was one of the most heavily
fortified positions).  He picked up a BAR (Browning automatic rifle) as
did most of the linemen and started out.  Before he had gone far he ran
into sniper and machine gun fire.  Hann dropped his line and went to work
with his rifle.  He cleaned out two groups of Japs then went ahead and
laid the line."

Radio repairmen under the direction of Marine Gunner Hubert Thomas,
Knob Lick, Mo., also were praised by Conner for their job in keeping
"shot up" sets in working condition.

In the big repair shop set up in dugouts while shells still were falling
all about, 126 sets were reconditioned and returned to service during the
first five days of the invasion.

Boosting morale of the entire signal group, was "Tim," a black Belgian
shepherd dog.  Tim has been used many times to deliver messages to forward
posts, but his proudest accomplishment is laying wire.  A small harness has
been devised which permits him to carry a reel of light telephone wire.

"He's always calm under fire now," said Conner, "and knows when to jump
into his own foxhole."

Tim also knows how to ferret out snipers if they begin to harass his
master, Cpl. Charles F. Hablesreither, Santa Monica, Calif.

Leah McKin

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