Honor Mission WWII Iwo Jima Marine Robert Scullin
Rally Location: Eichel Funeral Home, 8323 Maple Ave., Pennsauken, NJ
Rally Time: 9:30am. Flag Line in place by 9:45am. (Viewing 10-11a, Service 11am). (For those that cant do flag line, be at funeral home by 10:50 to join in the motorcycle escort to cemetery)
Motorcycle Escort: Immediately following service, leave Eichel Funeral Home, 8323 Maple Ave, Pennsauken, NJ 08109 and proceed to Locustwood Cemetery, Cherry Hill, NJ
67 years later, the carnage of Iwo Jima remains fresh for N.J. Marine.
By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer – February 19, 2012
Sixty-seven years later, he still has dreams of that dark, volcanic island – and the unimaginable horrors he witnessed there.
He recalls a friend shot through the head, an American flag fluttering atop a mountain, and the sharp sting of a bullet passing through his jaw.
Pvt. Bob Scullin was 19 when he landed on Feb. 19, 1945, with tens of thousands of other Marines on Iwo Jima, whose very name conjures images of ferocious combat.
Twenty-seven service members – 22 Marines and five Navy seamen – received the Medal of Honor for their actions during a two-month battle that claimed the lives of 4,590 Americans and more than 20,000 Japanese.
“I think about it all the time,” Scullin, 86, of Pennsauken, said. “Sometimes, I have dreams about it.”
In a landing craft splashing through the waves toward the Japanese island, “we didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “It was scary.
“We tried to encourage each other, saying, ‘You’re going to make it! You’re going to make it!’ ”
A member of the 27th Marines, Fifth Division, in the first wave, Scullin was toting an M-1 rifle and 60 pounds of mortar shells tucked in a vest. He and others who followed in the second wave were greeted by an eerie silence when they hit the beach.
“The third wave is when we caught it,” Scullin said solemnly.
The defenders let loose with artillery, mortar, and machine gun and small arms fire just when the beach was most crowded with Marines and their equipment.
“You tried to hide by digging a foxhole, but it would just fill up” because of the volcanic ash, he said. “A lot of people were shot.
“A friend of mine in the mortar platoon was shot through the head,” he said. “They [Japanese] had every square inch of the island covered” with fire.
The Marines had to move out.
“We were only on the beach a couple hours before we went further inland,” Scullin said. “We were sup-posed to cut off Mount Suribachi from the rest of the island.”
Using a coffee cup to represent Suribachi, he described how his mortar platoon followed the infantry past the mountain toward an airstrip the United States hoped to eventually use to bomb the Japanese home-land.
The goal along the way?
“Kill Japanese,” he said with a shrug.
The Marines took heavy losses. One of the casualties was a fellow New Jerseyan, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone of Raritan, who had received a Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal.
Basilone was helping others take an airstrip on the first day of the battle when he was killed by mortar shrapnel. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Four days later, the American flag was raised over the 545-foot Mount Suribachi. Five Marines and a Navy corpsman replaced it with a larger, more visible flag. That moment was immortalized in Joe Rosenthal’s Pu-litzer Prize-winning photograph, the iconic, heavily reproduced image of the battle.
“I didn’t see it when it first went up, but I did see it later,” Scullin said.
It was an encouraging sight, but but the Marines still had most of the fighting ahead of them.
At night, he and comrades kept their chatter to a minimum. “You didn’t want to attract enemy fire,” he said. “We’d fire at the Japs and knew we hit them but wouldn’t find their bodies the next day.”
They had been taken into the Japanese forces’ elaborate, fortified cave system – miles of underground tunnels linking hundreds of bunkers and blockhouses.
We were scared all the time . . . every time we heard comrades were shot,” Scullin said. “A first lieutenant was shot through the neck and it shook us up. You just didn’t know if you’d get shot or not.”
On March 3, he was sitting on a ledge of volcanic rock near two fellow Marines when a Japanese sniper targeted him. He pointed to a spot on a table and used salt and pepper shakers to show where his friends where. Then his hands moved to his jaw where the bullet struck.
“When I was shot, I put my hands on my face and they [comrades] pulled me back from the ledge,” Scullin said. “I heard them calling for a corpsman and was taken away on a stretcher.
“I gave them a thumbs-up, but I don’t remember being on the beach or getting on a boat.”
The battle continued until March 17, but it had ended for Scullin, who was treated first on a hospital ship, then transferred to hospitals in Honolulu, San Francisco, and Providence, R.I. “I didn’t open my mouth for five months,” said Scullin, who underwent numerous surgeries. “I joined the 52-20 club – 52 weeks, $20 a week disability pay.”
At home with his parents later, he got up from his sleep one night and began pulling the bureau drawers in and out as though operating an antiaircraft gun. “I was dreaming,” he said.
“My mother heard me and came to check.”
Scullin was discharged in 1946, worked in the maintenance department of the Pennsauken school system, rejoined the Marines in 1949, and left again in 1953. He later worked in the maintenance departments at RCA, Cooper Hospital, and Campbell Soup in Camden before retiring in 1990.
“But I often think about Iwo – especially in February,” he said
Robert W. Scullin, age 91, of Pennsauken, on Friday, February 3, 2017. Survived by nieces and nephews: William Tock, Jr. (Diania), David (Joanne) Tock, Walter H. Scullin, Jr. (Penny), Jerry Dean Scullin, Mary (Paul) Giordano, Nancy (George) Galyon, and Linda Krieck.
Robert proudly served two enlistments in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and Korean War. He was active in Marine Corps League Garden State Det. #1273 and a life member of VFW Post 15031 and Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter #26.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Wednesday evening, February 15 6-9PM and Thursday morning, February 16 10-11AM at EICHEL FUNERAL HOME, 8323 MAPLE AVENUE, PENNSAUKEN, NJ 08109. Funeral service 11AM. Interment immediately following in Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill.