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John Beard


John Beard Newman

(John) worked tirelessly, moving constantly between the assault units and the battalion first-aid station without thought for his own safety. Many of the wounded owe him a debt which can never be paid.

Major General Graves B. Erskine, Commander, Third Marine Division

John B. Newman was the son of Walter and Mary P. Newman and of Bluefield, Mercer County, West Virginia. He was born April 21, 1916, in Cinderella, West Virginia. He graduated from Glenwood High School and attended N. Y. A. School in Charleston, West Virginia, during 1940 and 1941.

John married Lucille Baldwin, and they then gave birth to a daughter, Frances Gail, in June 1942. He was employed by the Kingston Pocahontas Coal Company before his enlistment in the U. S. Marine Corps in January 1944. He received his training at Camp Elliott in San Diego, California, and additional training at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. The Marines assigned him to the 3rd Marine Division and sent to the Pacific in July 1944.

After fighting against the Japanese at Guam during August 1944, the division was one of three Marine divisions assigned the task of wresting the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese forces. The 4th and 5th Marine Divisions sailed from Saipan on February 15, 1945. Battle plans called for these two divisions to move ashore while the 3rd Marine Division was to be held in "floating reserve," which meant that they would remain aboard a ship offshore unless and until they were needed. The 21st Regiment of the 3rd Marines sailed from Saipan with the 4th and 5th Divisions.

The fighting came to its high point on February 19, 1945. It was intense and casualties were high and increasing. Enemy resistance seemed overwhelming. On the second day, it became obvious that they would have to call in the reserved division. The 21st Regiment, 3rd Marines, was still off the beach, aboard ship, waiting for any orders to assist the troops ashore. The orders came and the 21st boarded landing crafts and proceeded to the beach, where the military assigned them to the 4th Marines on the right flank of the line. Marines landing
at Iwo Jima, 19 February 1945
Marines landing at Iwo
Jima, 19 February 1945

Burial of a fallen soldier at Iwo
Burial of a fallen soldier at Iwo Jima

Corporal John Beard Newman's battalion was one of several from among the 21st and 9th Regiments that were the spearhead for the assault on Motoyama Number Two- the second of three airfields that the military needed to capture in order to permit the landing of American aircrafts to assist in securing the other islands. The advancing Marines fought their way up the center of the airfield, again suffering tremendous casualties. Among the duties of a Marine, John served as Assistant Battalion Cook. A call went out within battalion ranks for volunteers to assist corpsmen by serving as stretcher-bearers in an attempt to remove the mounting number of wounded Marines from enemy lines. Corporal Newman was quick to volunteer and made several trips carrying wounded back to first-aid stations, where they were treated or operated upon for their wounds. On the morning of Sunday, February 25, he was returning to the front with other stretcher-bearers for more wounded when a shell fragment struck him in the chest, killing him instantly.

John's body was carried south within the safety of battalion lines. Later, his body was laid to rest beside other comrades in the Third Division Cemetery on the incline leading up to the north-south runway of Motoyama Number One. In 1948, his body was returned to the United States and buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bramwell, West Virginia.

Biography and Pictures provided with the assistance of Larry L. Legge


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