Through Hell for Love

Tommy Thompson, guest writer


“Help!” screamed naval seamen from the flight deck of the USS Bunker Hill as it burned from a Japanese kamikaze attack. Viscera, body parts, and corpses burned on the deck of the carrier.

As one man laid on the flaming deck with blood pouring down his face and legs, he thought of all that had led to this point. He cried out one last time before losing consciousness from blood loss. This is his story.

* * *

“Happy New Year’s!” As the ball dropped in Times Square, Edward Wallace Martin cheered with the rest of the city as confetti and streamers fluttered around them.

Edward was an average American: patriotic and loved baseball. Edward grew up in the Great Depression and could not receive adequate education. He was instead home schooled by his mother. He was a single man who wanted love, and he had his eye on one. Ramona Townsend was what Edward was looking for: blonde and gorgeous. However, Edward had never spoken to her.

After becoming bright red in the face, Edward ran into his home to begin work with his father, Wallace Martin.

“Where have you been boy!? Times a tickin’!”

“S-sorry,Dad. I-I was just having some fun!”

“You know we can’t afford to slack off! Ever since Patricia died, we’ve had a hard time paying’ rent! Now, there is a list of interested clients on the table. Go and get a deal.”

Martin Wallace was a fierce businessman in Yonkers. He owned Wallace Construction and Contracting which was known throughout all of New York City. He ran his business like a machine.

“Yes,Sir.” Edward said.

Edward met with four possible clients that afternoon, all of them turning him down as he stuttered his way through the pitch. It was close to five o’ clock when Edward finished with the fourth failed client and he found himself in Lower Manhattan along the Hudson River.

I’m such a failure! I can’t get a client and I can’t talk to the girl I want to talk to! Ever since mom died, I’ve been nothing but a nervous wreck!At that moment, Edward looked out over the river and saw a magnificent sight: chugging down the river was the USS Colorado.

            Edward could hear the men on board. Commands were shouted, and the men responded with strength in their voice: “Yes,Sir!”

“That’s it. That’s it!” Edward shouted so loud that a few of the men on the battleship turned to look at him. “I’ll join the Navy to build my confidence!”

            By the time Edward returned home around nine, Wallace was fuming with rage.

“Where the hell have you been!?”

W-well Dad. I, uh, I did something else…I. ..I joined something…”

“What did you join, The KKK!?”

“No, I joined the, uh, the Navy.”

“What!? The Navy!? You’re gonna go fight in this war!? Son, who’s gonna help me with the business? I can’t handle this on my own, you know that.”

“I-I’m sorry dad, this is s-something I feel I need to d-do.”


“All aboard!” Edward arrived at Pennsylvania Station to board a train with hundreds of others who had either enlisted or been drafted into the Navy.

Some naval officers directed Edward to track nine where the train would take him to Sampson Naval Training Base along Lake Seneca in western New York. Sampson by that time had trained almost four-hundred thousand seamen and occupied “four and one-half miles of lakefront”(Sampson).


Roughly six weeks went by in the blink of an eye. Before he knew it, Edward was a seaman. After completing his basic training, Edward was placed under the command of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and was to be sent to Iwo Jima to provide assistance to naval forces there covering for US Marines. Edward knew that his assignment to Iwo Jima was incredibly important in assisting the Pacific Campaign and that the island would provide an airfield to bomb the Japanese homeland (Battle).

Edward was permitted one day to return home to Yonkers to see his father.

“Father! I’m home!”

“Welcome home, Private Martin! Glad to see you got over your stuttering!”

After visiting with his father and discussing the business, Edward packed his things and turned toward the door. He turned around to say goodbye, but Wallace was already standing in the entryway with a tear in his eye.

“Son, I’m proud of you, and I know your mother would be too.”

“Thanks. Thanks, Dad.”

After a long, emotional hug, Edward left his father and headed for the train station. He looked toward Ramona’s house and could have sworn he saw someone duck behind the curtains.


After arriving in Pearl Harbor and boarding the USS New York,Edward had met his commanding officer, Chester Nimitz.

“Seaman Martin, your post during the attack on the island will be at the forward battery gun, spotting for the gunner. Do you think you can handle that?”

Edward remembered that day several weeks back that had started this all, when his father told him to go make deals with clients. He remembered those words his father said, “Go and get a deal.” Edward thought of it all: his insecurity, his stuttering. Except now was different.

“Yes,Sir! I can handle this!”


Two days later, on February 16, the USS New Yorkarrived off the shore of Iwo Jima. Marines were prepared to storm the beaches and take the island, but they were waiting on the Navy to ease up the Japanese resistance on shore (Hickman). Edward took his position near the gun with binoculars to spot enemies out to the gunner.

After several shots were fired and Japanese soldiers were seen retreating, Marines began storming the beach. Bodies floated in the water, scattered across the shore, and some clung to life. Edward continued to shout locations of enemies for the next several hours as he watched man after man get shot down on the beach.


Finally, on February 19, the USS New York pulled out of the bombardment of Iwo Jima and returned to Hawaii. Edward remained there on duty at Pearl Harbor for several months. During this time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and the nation mourned, yet the military didn’t have much time to mourn. Finally, word came that the Americans were going to invade Okinawa to gain ground close to Japan. Initially, Edward was to remain onboard the New York to bombard Okinawa and assist over five hundred thousand soldiers take the island (Gorman). However, he was stationed on the USS Bunker Hillas an AA gunner.

On board, Edward met several seamen whom he would be stationed with for the next several weeks. One of the men made quite a friendship with Edward, probably the first real friendship Edward had experienced in the war. His name was Peter Murphy, a man from Chicago who had joined the war in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“So Edward, what exactly happened at Iwo Jima? I’ve been stationed in Hawaii ever since I signed up.”

Edward did his best to convey the bloody, hellish story to Peter in which he had seen hundreds of men slaughtered as though it was nothing. By the end of it, tears were rolling down Edward’s face.

“Wow, I-I have to say Edward, you had to be pretty strong in the head to be able to watch that, and still point out the Japs. I don’t know if I could’ve done that.”

When Edward heard this, he again thought of his lack of courage and strength back home with his father and the business, and saw how far he had come since then. The strength and confidence he had gained in the Navy was truly amazing.

“Yeah. I guess your right Peter. Thanks.”


On May 11, 1945, what Edward thought would never happen to him, happened. It was a foggy morning, and it was difficult to spot enemy aircraft through it. When no one expected it, two kamikaze pilots came out of the fog and crashed into the flight deck; Edward and Peter were caught in the blast.

It was as if the rest of the world had ceased to exist, and as Edward laid on the flaming deck with blood pouring down his face and legs, he thought. As Edward contemplated, he laid his head back and closed his eyes: ready to die.

As he continued to think, one person came into his mind, one person who had inspired him to go through all this: Ramona. She was the reason he had even joined the Navy, to gain the confidence to go across the street to talk to her.

“What am I doing? I’m laying here, ready to die, but I haven’t even gone home and done what I was going to do. Talk to Ramona. If I can live through Iwo Jima and now this, I can definitely walk across the street and talk to a girl.”


Peter was laying on his side grasping his chest. He had been hit with shrapnel from the planes. He gasped for air as he looked up at Edward.

“Edward, get outta here, you have a father to go home to. A life to live.”

“Peter, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew that I had stood by, and let you die.”

Without another word, Edward slung Peter over his shoulder and carried him away from the fire and smoke. Once clear, Edward carefully set Peter onto the deck and fell down beside him. The two of them, covered in black soot, laid there on the flight deck, and passed out.


“Edward, if it hadn’t been for you, I would have died there and then on that deck. You sure have some guts Martin. I don’t have a lot to look forward to back in Chicago, but I do see now that with you, there’s a lot coming my way.”

Edward smiled at that and turned to leave. He was scheduled to leave the Navy in September. By then, the nuclear bombs had been dropped on Japan, and they surrendered the day before Edward was discharged. Leaving with a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal, Edward returned to New York, knowing there was someone he needed to see.


Arriving back in Yonkers, his father met him with a smile and a hug.

“Hey, Edward. Some girl came knocking on the door just after you left for Hawaii. I don’t remember her name, but she wanted to see you.”


“Yeah, I think she lives in that house down on the corner.”

Edward got up and walked down to the corner. As he walked down the walkway toward the door, he realized that everything he had done over the past six or seven months, was for this moment. He knocked on the door and even after all that he had been through, his stomach was still turning over in his gut. He had gone through Hell for this. Opening the door was the girl he had remembered when he left. She began the conversation.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“My father tells me that you inquired about me shortly after I left town. I came to see what it was that you needed.”

“Ahh yes, you must be Private Martin.”

“You may call me Edward Ma’am.”

“Well then, Edward, I’ve seen you around here since I moved in and I was wondering if I would ever get to talk to you.”

“So was I, Ramona.”

Works Cited

“Battle of Iwo Jima.”, Web. April 5, 2017

Gorman, Robert.The 20th Century. Vol. 1, Salem Press, 2008.

Hickman, Kennedy. “World War I/II: USS New York (BB-34)” ThoughtCo,

Web. April 5, 2017.

“Sampson Naval Training Base” New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Web. April 5, 2017.



Appleman, Roy, et al. “Okinawa: The Last Battle” Center of Military History.

Web. April 5, 2017.