Le Moyne Alum Subject of CNN’s “World’s Untold Stories”
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (For Immediate Release) … Marty Connor, Le Moyne College Class of 1951, was the subject of one of CNN’s recent “World’s Untold Stories” on May 13, 2011. The article can be read here:posted on: 5/17/2011
Connor at 18 years of age found himself at the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 with the 1st Battalion, 26th Regiment, 5th Marine Division. As he recalled in an article in the Le Moyne Magazine a few years ago, “When I got out of the landing barge, I looked to the right. I saw these two young Marines as I went by, and they were gray – they’d bled out – and I said to myself, ‘Connor, what are you doing here?’”
In 1970, Connor returned to the island to mark the 25th anniversary of the bloody battle. It was during that visit that Connor saw a fellow veteran return personal papers to the family of a dead Japanese soldier that he had taken from the battlefield. The family had traveled by train all day and night to receive the items. Connor was so moved by the gesture and the obvious significance these items held for the family that he began to collect relics himself from fellow veterans to return to the Japanese. He has spent the last 40 years trying to reunite the items with surviving relatives, including one letter from a Japanese soldier to his older brother, which spoke of coming home soon, but was never mailed.
Connor sees his mission as an act of healing for both sides. “I think that given enough time afterwards you have compassion. When we went back there in 1970, we saw so many of them with hands and arms and legs off, where you knew that they suffered painfully. Standoffish at first, but then we came right together, and we were friends. The war’s over.”
Read the Le Moyne Magazine article about Connor’s project here.