CORPORAL US MARINE CORPS
Bob Gasche a resident of Gainesville, Florida is best know for his work,
KEEP ALACHUA COUNTY BEAUTIFUL. What Bob also provided us
his personal glimpse of the "GREATEST GENERATION."
Bob enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 1943 and went to take his boot camp at
San Diego Recuit Depot. From here he went onto North Island, San Diego Harbor for a short tour of duty. It was not long before
sent to Camp Pendleton, California to take his advanced infantry
training as a member of the Fifth Marine Division, F.M.F (Fleet Marine
Force). It was at this time that the newly form Fifth Marine Division was being activated.
The Fifth Marine Division nickname " The Spearhead" spent its early months training, being equip
and brought to strength at Camp Pendleton.
Elements of the division began departing for overseas
service in July 1944 as the reserve force for the Guam campaign. Not needed,
they arrived at Camp Tarawa, near Hilo, Hawaii. The rest of the division arrived between August-November 1944.
At Camp Tarawa, the Fifth honed its combat skills and awaited the call to duty. It came in late 1944
when the division received its
combat orders for the assult on Iwo Jima. It was at this time intensified training began on terrain that was a close match to the
ground on Iwo Jima. In December
1944, transports began arriving at Hilo. Loading began on December 16, and the last units of The
pulled out of Camp Tarawa January 4, 1945.
It was predawn on D-Day. February 19, 1945, when the dark was giving away to the first light
the sight of our target Island, dominated by its 504-foot volcano named Surbachi. The eight square
mile island had been "soften
up" by 72 days of bombardment from ships and planes. Some observers doubted that anything could have remained alive after the deluge
of explosions. How wrong they were-this deadly piece of Hell called Iwo Jima turned into 36 days of death and destruction.
Bob Gasche a 21 year old Marine was about to see his first combat on this island. He went on shore the first day, but not in the first
wave. "I clearly remember the beach was already crowded with casualties" he says. "I can clearly remember a body rolling in the waves."
Marines had cut the island in two by the end of the first day-despite over 2,400 casualities. On
day 2, the Marines attacked Mount
Surbachi. Here they founf fanatical Japanese defence and Suribachi was taken on February 23 after three days of fighting. Despite
the capturing Suribachi the battle continued to rage for many more days, and the island would not be declared "Secure" untill
When the flag was raised Gasche says "It was just a wave of exulation that swept the island." it would only be short lived
as Private Bob Gasche would be wouned and eventually taken to a hospital ship, where he underwent surgery to remove the shrapnel from
his abdomen. As he was being evacuated to Hawaii, he also lived to tell of an emergency landing, when the plane carring him and other
injured men was forced down onto a small island after losing two of its four engines.
His first battle turned out to be his last. But
a few years later he was called up for Korea and spent another year in combat. And 52 years after he was ferried off the island of
Iwo Jima, he got another
surprise. The Purple Heart Medal he'd earned in the battle, but never received, arrived in the mail at his
home in Gainesville.
Today Bob Gasche is involved in the many veterans orgainizations in the North Central Florida area,
the IWO TRIO.
Fifth Marine Division Cemetary on Iwo Jima
Priviate Bob Gasche
Interviewed by Alachua County
November 9, 2009
Bob Gasche stand with his Purple Heart in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Moument
Battle Of Iwo Jima Slide Show