By Sgt. Melissa Karnath, Defense Media Activity
WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- William “Bill” Schott from Sioux City, Iowa, quit high school to enlist into the Marine Corps. Schott attended school for paratroopers at Camp Gillespie, Oklahoma for about five or six weeks and completed a total of 13 jumps.
Shortly after he became a runner, a troop who moved vehicles up as forces moved.
“I was in the sixth wave in. My job was to take the half-tracks up the front line and find out where they were supposed to be, and then get them into place.“
Schott witnessed the flag rising on Iwo Jima, which was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal’s photograph.
“I was in a foxhole when the flag was raised. I didn’t have to go up front that day since we were taking some heavy casualties and we were given a day or two while things were being reorganized. All of a sudden, I hear the ships out in the harbor start tooting their horns. Then people started saying ‘Look at Suribachi!’
“I looked up there, just in time, to see the flag come down. Then another flag went up. Taking Mount Suribachi and raising the flag was the biggest success of that operation.”
“I was on Iwo Jima for 45 days. I didn’t get injured or anything and I owe it to three things: I prayed hard, I dug deep and I ran fast.”
After the battle of Iwo Jima, Schott returned back to his unit in Hawaii to get reorganized.
“We were combat loaded headed for Japan. We were just a day or two out from Japan, when the armistice was signed. So, we went into Japan for occupation. I had a job going around and picking up military equipment. Everything from little handguns, to rifles and grenades and bombs, I filled boxcars full of the junk. I could have had all kinds of souvenirs but to me it was all junk. Now today, I wish I had the car all full of it.”
Schott served in the Marines from 1943 to 1947 and ended his active duty when he got married. Schott speaks at functions and schools about the importance of the battle of Iwo Jima and the sacrifice made by service members during the battle for the volcanic island.
“When I was on there fighting, I began to wonder what we were fighting for. It’s a lousy, stinkin’ volcanic island. Later on, I was at a banquet in Dallas and I was walking past a table and guy grabs me and said ‘You saved my life!’ He said, ‘I landed the first B-29 plane on Iwo Jima.’ Then it makes sense what we did on Iwo Jima. Taking Iwo Jima saved a lot of air lives, more lives than we lost, more planes and equipment too. Taking the island was one big victory in the war.”