Sitting on the town line of Newington and New Britain, Conn., a rock's throw from the highway, sits an Iwo Jima monument like no other. Iwo Jima survivors who were members of American Legion Seicheprey Post 2, and also members of the Iwo Jima Survivor Association, helped build this special monument.
In 1995 the association dedicated the monument, built with no government help. They raised all the funds needed to make this happen. They purchased the land the park sits on. One member died of a heart attack clearing the land.
On the top of this monument are stones from the island of Iwo Jima. Sand from the shores is mixed into the cement. There are 100 posts on the fence that surrounds the monument; each contains a plaque of one of the 100 who never returned home from Iwo Jima to Connecticut. A 48-star American flag waves from the flagstaff.
Standing next to the Iwo Jima monument are two other monuments: one built in memory of the chaplain who served on Iwo Jima, and a second monument that honors corpsmen who served during the battle.
In 2020 for the 75th-anniversary Iwo Jima Survivor Reunion of Connecticut, Rear Adm. Todd, chaplain for the U.S. Marine Corps and vice chaplain for the U.S. Navy, was the guest speaker. He dedicated the chaplain monument along with the corpsmen monument. He also rededicated the Iwo Jima monument on its 25th anniversary that day.
The son of Rene Gagnon, the Marine who carried the second flag up Mt. Suribachi and carried the first flag down, was on hand. He help ring the bell in honor of those 100 from Connecticut.
Thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard, the association was able to get rocks and sand ship to the United States. The problem they faced was that the government would not allow the stones and sand to be moved by any military vessel. Thus they had to have a commercial shipping company move it. Once the material reached America, the sand had to be quarantined because it was not listed on the manifest.
The operation of the park is covered by the members. All costs are covered by donations or fundraisers. Every year the 48-star flag is changed out by the Newington Fire Department ladder truck. The flag is given to the largest donor each year.