As the battle of Iwo Jima raged for a 12th day with no end in sight, the widowed mother of a young demolitions man in the 3d Marine Division, Private First Class W. F. William, could stand it no longer. From her little farm in Alabama, Lillian Cody wrote to the only person she thought could help: her son's division commander.
Pouring out her agony without inhibition, she wrote: "I have my son I love with all my heart, I pray, pray, night and day, I lisen to the raidy [sic] I hear all the news where the 3rd Div is, I am so worried about my son, I pray you answer my letter, telling me is he O.K. . . . I am nearly crazy. I am so worried I can't sleep or eat." Two weeks later, she wrote again: "I feel my son been wounded. . . . Now I am asking you to please tell me. I'll know it some day any way, and I want to know."
The letters cited in this study are among the unpublished papers of General Graves B. Erskine, which were fully arranged and indexed by Alisa Whitely of the Archives and Special Collections Section, Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia. Additional information about the missing Marine private is from a casualty record in the History Division at Quantico.
Joseph H. Alexander, Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima (Washington, DC: Marine Corps Historical Center, 1994).
Robert A. Aurthur and Kenneth Cohlmia, The Third Marine Division (Nashville, TN: The Battery Press, 1988).
Robert S. Burrell, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, 2006).
Patrick F. Caruso, Nightmare On Iwo (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001).
George B. Clark, The Six Marine Divisions in the Pacific (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2006).
George W. Garand and Truman R. Strobridge, History of Marine Corps Operations in World War II, Vol IV, Western Pacific Operations (Washington, DC: Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1971).
Jeter A. Isely and Philip A. Crowl, The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951).
Bill D. Ross, Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor (New York: Vanguard, 1985).
Robert Sherrod, On to Westward: The Battles of Saipan and Iwo Jima (Baltimore, MD: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1990).
Holland M. Smith, Coral and Brass (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1949).
Staff of the Ninth Marines, The Ninth Marines (Washington, DC: Zenger Publishing Co., 1946).