Every Marine and sailor who fought in the hell that was the Battle of Iwo Jima has his personal history of horrors seen, hardships endured, and losses experienced. But regardless of how terrible that history was, many Iwo veterans—like warriors throughout time—could find dark humor amid the confusion and carnage of combat.
So it was for a Marine and a Navy corpsman, wounded just moments apart in a Japanese shelling, then quickly separated and left to wonder for 45 years what had happened to one another. Only after meeting in 1990 could they laugh at an experience that had been anything but funny at the time.
Charlie Adams and Bob DeGeus were members of Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.
Adams was an “FM”—a field musician, or bugler, equivalent in grade to a private—assigned to company headquarters. Because buglers were unnecessary on Iwo Jima, he became a jack-of-all-trades. He was a runner and radioman for Fox Company’s commander, Captain Frank Caldwell. He also sealed caves—tossing in satchel charges or guiding tanks to the caves.