CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Veterans of the historic battle of Iwo Jima were to begin arriving on Guam on Monday to meet and prepare for the upcoming annual ceremony that will pay tribute to the bloody battle’s 60th anniversary.

Seventy World War II veterans will attend the ceremony Saturday on Iwo Jima, with more than 280 family members traveling with them, according to Tom Goresch, director of Micronesia operations for Military Historical Tours, who has arranged the trip. Goresch said not all 70 veterans fought on Iwo Jima — though a majority of the group did.

Included in this year’s trip, he said, are two men who fought on Iwo Jima and went on to become general officers, and a Navajo code talker who fought on the island.

The typical tour group size is about 100, Goresch said, but with this year being the battle’s 60th anniversary, more veterans and family members than usual are making the trip.

The veterans and family members will spend the week on Guam taking half-day trips throughout the island. Tour stops include battlefield sites, Spanish ruins, a local cultural village, the War Dog Memorial and a visit to the Naval Station museum. The group also will make three stops on Andersen Air Force Base — at the Andersen Heritage Display, the wives’ club gift shop and the Linebacker II Memorial at Arc Light Memorial Park.

“I was surprised,” Staff Sgt. Theresa Cooper, a public affairs representative who is organizing the Andersen visit, said about the bigger group of visitors this year. “It’s very gratifying. We’ve put a call out for volunteer tour guides.”

Approximately 20 Air Force volunteers have answered the call. “This is an opportunity for troops to participate in an event that’s very dear to our veterans,” Cooper told them.

On Friday night, the group will have an Iwo Jima anniversary banquet on Guam with national and local dignitaries. The next morning, the veterans will have their chance to once again stand on the black beaches of Iwo Jima.

There they will meet with a handful of their Japanese counterparts and lay wreaths at the Reunion of Honor Monument on a hill overlooking Yellow Beach. Each year on March 12, the one-time enemies meet there in friendship to honor the men who never left the island.

Marines from Okinawa will head to the island that day to lend their support. The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band will be on hand to provide music, and other Marines will serve as a rifle detail, ceremonial platoon and the Color Guard. Marines also will be at eight of the island historic sites to explain the significance of that area to those on the tour.

After the ceremony, the veterans will tour the various battle sites on the island before heading back to Guam, and the planning of the 61st anniversary will begin.

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