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'Iwo Jima was enough'

October 24, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - They were preparing to watch what has been said to be a very graphic war film.

Those sitting in the theater Monday were familiar with the battle depicted in "Flags of Our Fathers." A few are World War II veterans, and one fought in The Battle of Iwo Jima.

But most of those interviewed at the special screening of the film at Hagerstown 10 Cineplex theater said they weren't there to see another war film. They've seen them all. And they weren't there for the memories.

"I don't need to see any more of that stuff," said Bernard Leasure, 85, of Saint James. "I don't need to see any more war pictures."

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They were there for Clint Eastwood.

"Frankly, I'm just here because I like Clint Eastwood," Leasure said.

Leasure served as a combat engineer with the U.S. Army during World War II.

Eastwood directed the film, which follows the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.

The theater and the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 14, sponsored the screening Monday, which offered free admission to World War II veterans and disabled American veterans. All other veterans received a reduced price.

Stephen L. Hansen, commander of the local chapter, helped organize the screening and said he was pleased that nearly 300 people attended.

Earl Blair, 90, of Rouzerville, Pa., served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46 and is a World War II veteran. Blair said he wanted to see "Flags of Our Fathers" because he knows many of the Navy ships that brought the Marines ashore.

"I'm very interested in seeing the film," he said.

He said he expected the film to bring back memories from his tours with the European and Pacific theaters.

Arnold Gozora, 82, of Williamsport, was at The Battle of Iwo Jima and said he served in the Marines from 1943-46. The battle was fought in 1945 and, as a result, the United States gained control of the island of Iwo Jima. Perhaps the most famous image of that battle is of the Marines raising the United States flag at Mount Suribachi during the battle.

Gozora said it was hard to say why he chose to see the film Monday.

"I had enough of it," he said. "Iwo Jima was enough."

He said he read the book the film was based on, and that brought back many memories of the battle.

After seeing the movie Monday, he told his wife, Catherine Gozora, that it was very well done, and that the story of the flag was a wonderful story.

"You know, they don't like to talk about (the battle,)" she said. "They can't understand how they got back because everybody died around them. He used to say always that the ocean was red with blood. He doesn't know how he ever made it."

Before the movie began, Gozora was recognized as being the only one in the theater who was at The Battle of Iwo Jima. His wife said her husband stood, was recognized and everyone applauded.

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