Suncoast veteran recounts Iwo Jima experience


LONGBOAT KEY – Harold Ronson, 91, remembers his days in the U.S. Navy.

“From the Philippines we went to Iwo Jima, and that’s what my main story is about,” Ronson said.

The year was 1944 and Ronson was coming from a ball park when he saw a Naval recruiting station station.

“So in we went, and we signed up and the guy looked at the papers and said, ‘You’re not 18 yet. You need a letter from your father,'” Ronson said. “So I went in the men’s room, and I wrote a letter.”

He got on a train headed for San Diego and never looked back.

“It had two sleeping bunks for four guys, so we rotated during the night,” Ronson said.

Then he and his men boarded a ship for Hawaii. He was the cook.

“It kept me together because I had privacy,” Ronson said. “I could close the galley and shut everybody out.”

He couldn’t shut the noise out for long.

“Landing on Iwo Jima, you can’t describe it,” Ronson said. “It’s just so violent.”

He spent nine days on the island where nearly 7,000 Americans died.

“The cook had a machine gun, and I fired it. The guy next to me got hit in the face, and he survived, but I’ll never forget that moment,” Ronson said. “I see it every..again and again.”

This particular battle is consuming his thoughts now more than ever.

“It’s on my mind now because I’m making noise of going to Iwo,” Ronson said.

Every year he considers going back.

“Twice I signed on, paid the money and never went,” Ronson said. “I just couldn’t do it.”

Now, he says it could be his last chance.

“I don’t know when the showdown comes whether I’ll do it,” Ronson said.

But he does think it’d be worth it to see the island one last time.

“So, that’s the story of Iwo Jima,” Ronson said.

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Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at