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News | May 18, 2017

Professional Military Education Trip to Iwo To

By Lt. Peter Yagel, Region Legal Service Office Japan

The Region Legal Service Office Japan and Defense Service Office Pacific conducted a professional military education (PME) tour to familiarize participants with the historical and current significance of the Iwo To island (the name was changed from Iwo Jima to Iwo To in 2007) to Japan and the United States. During this tour we visited major points of interest so we could appreciate its importance to victory in WWII. This was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our personnel to visit a place of so much history and meaning. Walking in the footsteps of our brave Marine Corps brethren who fought (and many of whom died) on that soil was a humbling experience for all of us.

During our trip, we spent five hours on island. As Iwo To was a self-guided PME trip, three first tour judge advocate's, Lt. Caitlyn McCarthy, Lt. j.g. Philip Stevens, and Lt. j.g. Blake Roberts, put together PME for the trip. They researched the 27 medal of honor (MOH) winners from the Battle of Iwo Jima and gave each participant a card with a MOH winner, to be read throughout the tour at various points of interest. In addition, they gave an introduction to the island with a background of the island's importance in both the U.S. and Japanese strategies during WWII. They then used various rest stops, including at the top of Mt. Suribachi, to explain the battle in greater detail.

At the top, Lt. Allen Tolleth received an Navy Achievement Medal end of tour award. "Visiting Iwo Jima and receiving my end of tour award on top of Mount Suribachi was a humbling and surreal experience," said Tolleth. "We trekked, hiked, and climbed where so many heroically lost their lives in a campaign where, "uncommon valor was a common virtue". I will never forget sharing these moments with my colleagues."
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