Freedom Fighters: Barney Bigbie

By Joan Hallmark - bio | email

NEW LONDON (KLTV) - On February 19, 1945, U.S. Marines stormed Iwo Jima Island. The tiny island was strategic to the planned bombing of Japan. In the month that followed, 7,000 American soldiers died and there were 26,000 casualties.

Barney Bigbie of New London was in the first wave of Marines to hit the beach on Iwo. Fighting was ferocious and on the third day of battle, Bigbie was wounded in the shoulder. Bigbie had already survived the Bogainville campaign where he was rescued by a PT boat captained by John Kennedy, future President of the United States.

Bleeding profously from his wound, Bigbie was carried back to the Iwo beach while bullets continued to fly all around him. From the deck of a hospital ship, Bigbie saw his fellow Marines raise the flag on Iwo Jima's Mount Sarabouchi When Bigbie saw the flag, he thought the battle was won. But, it was to rage for another month, taking a terrible toll, seven thousand Marines and 22,000 Japanese dead.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.