By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - By the time Miller Dent went to Iwo Jima, he had already been in the military more than a year and a half.
He was part of the 3rd marines, in the weapons company. They had helped secure Guam and made it their temporary home before they were sent to Iwo Jima in February 1945 as replacement troops.
"The Japanese general had decided to withhold any fire on you when you were coming and when he saw the opportune time, he already had his weapons registered in. The 5th Division took Serabachi. The 4th was having a problem on its flank. Part of our division was sent in to help them at that time."
The rest of the 3rd Division, including Dent, was sent to attack in the zone between the 4th and 5th Marines.
"It was terrible. They were in caves and tunnels and dug in. Sometime it got to be hand to hand. We lost a lot of people there. I believe they had 26,000 Japanese and we had three Marine divisions against them. There was a fight to the death you might say."
After the victory at Iwo Jima, the 3rd Division went back to Guam.
"We were preparing for mainland Japan. I wouldn't be here and a lot of my friends would not be here today if we made that landing. It would have been terrible. The men, women and children would have been fighting with pitchforks, it would have been terrible."
The invasion never happened. Instead, the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered.
Dent went back to Mississippi State and joined the National Guard.
"Then along came Korea. Division called up on my birthday, the 16th of January 1951."
He would serve with the 3rd Infantry Division, 15th Infantry Heavy Tank Company.
"I woke up one morning wondering what I was doing over there after World War II."
He would stay for nine months. When Dent returned, he spent 12 years with the Department of Agriculture and served in the National Guard's Operation Emergency Headquarters. He was Civil Defense Director for three years, including the year Hurricane Camille hit. And he spent 13 years as a U.S. property and physical officer before retiring from the guard in 1984.
"I'm proud now that it's all over, that i was able to serve my country. It's a good country in spite of what we see sometimes."
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