By Matt Broggie Sergeant Larry Kirby will always remember the fighting on the morning of March 12, 1945, as his unit, Easy Company, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, attempted to move against Hill 362C under the cover of darkness in northeastern Iwo Jima. Frustrated with the slow progress being made on the heavily fortified Japanese island, divisional command had issued orders the day before to Easy and three other companies with depleted numbers from 3rd Marine Division to quietly infiltrate the Japanese line and then knock out a high-ground position being used as an observation post. It was known on Marine Corps maps as Hill 362C. Kirby remembered he and his fellow Easy Company Marines were ordered to shed all unnecessary gear and carry only “a weapon, ammunition, water and a couple of rations in our pockets.” Kirby carried his preferred Thompson submachine gun and extra .30- and 20-round stick magazines loaded with .45-cal. ammunition. As a secondary weapon, he slung an M1 carbine around his back. To ensure complete silence, Kirby wedged a sock around the chain of his canteen to keep it from rattling. The four companies met up at 3:30 am, and “then a silent command was given, just a nudge, and we started out.” Moving single file in complete darkness, each Marine kept formation by reaching out and touching the man ahead of him. For the past several days Kirby’s unit had advanced an average of 40 to 50 yards per day; on this morning, the column quickly covered 2


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