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Front & Center with John Callaway: 36 Days on Iwo Jima

It was the largest battle ever for the United States Marine Corps, and nearly 50,000 were killed in action or wounded on both sides in the 36-day battle involving more than 90,000 troops. The pivotal island of Iwo Jima would be the first landmark that any invading force had claimed as their own in Japan's history. John Callaway sat down for a special interview with two veterans of the battle: William Hudson and Col. Gerald Russell, USMC (Ret.) on Front & Center with John Callaway.

Col. Gerald F. Russell, USMC, (RET.) enlisted in the first U.S. Marine Corps Officer's Candidates Class. He landed in assault waves on Guadalcanal in the first U.S. offensive of WWII and landed in the third assault wave on Iwo Jima (Red Beach One) and personally witnessed the historic flag raising in February 1945. Russell was one of the youngest BN Commanding Officers in WWII. He provided protection of U.S. technical teams covering the atomic bomb site in Nagasaki, Japan. He accepted surrender of Tsushima Islands off the coast of the Japanese mainland. Russell served as an instructor at Officers Basic School in Quantico, VA and coached the Quantico Track Team. He served as CO 8th Marine Infantry Regiment and U.S. Ground Defense Forces in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the early difficulties with Cuba. A member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team, Russell retired from the Marine Corps in November 1968. He holds a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University and a Master in Education from American University.

Bill Hudson was born in New York City and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 18. He served in the 4th Marine Division as a Private First Class, infantry battalion. He was just 19 when his unit was in the front lines of the first wave to land at Iwo Jima. All officers in his company were either killed or wounded in the first hour. He was wounded on March 15 and was shipped back to Hawaii. He rejoined the 4th Marine Division and was sent back to the V-12 program, an officer training program, and attended Cornell University. When he returned to New York, he attended New York University, getting a B.A. and M.A. in physical education. Meeting the superintendent of schools in Los Alamos, NM, who was recruiting teachers, he moved to New Mexico and was a swimming and cross-country coach in Los Alamos public schools until he retired. He then joined Waddell and Reed in mutual fund sales and financial planning. After his wife retired, they both taught in Puerto Rico. They are now again living in Los Alamos.