Pvt. Bill Behrens

Greenwood, Clark Co., Wisconsin


One of over 75,000 Marines in the assault on Iwo Jima our Uncle, Pvt. Bill Behrens was in the 4th Marine Division, serving in the 14th Marine Regiment (Artillery) he was a rifleman who protected the forward observers.  He came ashore on the 1st day.  The 4th Mar. Div. was on the right hand side of the assault beach furthest away from Mt. Suribachi and close to a feature the Japanese had heavily fortified called the Rock Quarry.  As you know Iwo Jima means, "sulfur Island" because of the sulphur emitting vents and fumaroles from the dormant Volcano.  The sand was actually warm in some areas.   The 5th Marine Division was the left side of the assault beach landing closest to Suribachi and their job was to punch across the narrow neck of the Island, just 800 yards, as fast as they could to isolate Mt. Suribachi from the rest of the Island.  They were able to do that on the first day, but when they turned to Mt. Suribachi they were met with three mutually supporting lines of Japanese positions around the base of the mountain which they had to slug through at great cost.  It took 3 days to do that and many men were killed and wounded.  The patrol that then put the flag up on the top of the mountain actually had no resistance on their way up even though there were many live Japanese still burrowed into the mountain. 


Then, the 5th Marine division turned away from Suribachi beginning the assault northward.   They manned the left side of the line, two regiments of the newly landed 3rd Marine Division were in the middle including the 3rd Bn. 9th Marines who Dr. Jerry Behrens served with in Vietnam as well as the 3rd Bn, 4th Marine regiment which Field Navy Corpsman David Behrens served with in Vietnam.   The 3rd Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division was never committed to the battle, leaving the 4th and 9th Regiments along with their supporting units to fight it out, a matter of some controversy especially later during the battle as the casualties mounted and replacements were fed into the front line units and killed even before their comrades knew their names.  The 4th Marine Division was on the right end of the line.  The slow very costly push northwards taking one Japanese position after another, some multiple times, finally ended the battle after 36 days.   Out of the estimated 22,000 Japanese defenders, there were a little over a 100 prisoners taken.  Over 6,900 Marines were killed.   758 Corpsmen and 21 Medical Doctors were killed or wounded as well.       


On the second day of the battle two Japanese Kamikaze planes hit the Escort Carrier USS Bismarck Sea, which was part of the Navy protective screen offshore.  It went down in 90 minutes with the loss of 318 sailors.   When Uncle Bill Behrens was back on Maui after the battle where the 4th Marine Division was absorbing replacements and training for the assault on Japan, they heard about the Atom Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended the war.  They felt like they had their lives handed back to them because most of them did not expect to survive the "next one" which was Japan itself.  


Dr. Jerry Behrens and David H Behrens and Son Bill Behrens Jr. and all of the Behrens/Jackson/Warner Family with love and Respect.


Related Links


Bio: Behrens, Dr. Jerry



David Behrens (family member) & Janet Schwarze




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