With the United States Marine Corps celebrating its birthday on November 10th and Veterans Day falling one day later, November 11th, I thought we should celebrate two special marines…both Iwo Jima survivors…Calvin Atwood and Hap Varner.  Dave and I have wanted to get these two gentlemen together for a long time.  That time came in April this year, when Hap was visiting his home on Amelia. Calvin is a full time resident of Amelia and Hap has been coming here since 1974. 

Calvin served with the U.S. Marine Corps as a parachutist-machine gunner in World War II and was wounded in combat on Iwo Jima.  He saw the flag being raised on Mt. Suribachi.

Cal Atwood photo by Steve Leimberg, Unseen Images.com

Photo by Steve Leimberg, UnseenImages.com

Hap also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was wounded in combat on Iwo Jima on the 3rd day of the battle.  Prior to his medical evacuation back to Hawaii he too saw the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi.  You know the image… the one made famous by photographer Joe Rosenthal depicting six United States Marines raising a U.S. flag.

Hap Varner photo by Steve Leimberg, UnseenImages.com

Photo by Steve Leimberg, UnseenImages.com

Dave and I have known Hap for a long time.  Hap and Dave’s father, David Miller, Sr., “Pops”, were best of friends.  They had known each other for years.

We both wanted Cal and Hap to meet and once arranged, it was a delight to see two men with shared experiences asking questions of one another and remembering their time at Iwo Jima and in the Marines.

Cal Atwood and Hap Varner

Cal Atwood and Hap Varner photo by Kathy Miller

As we honor our Veterans this month, I am reminded of the number of WWII Veterans we are losing each day.  Our special friend Hap passed away in August and we miss him dearly.  His smiling face and his “Bless Your Heart” will be remembered by all who knew him.

Upon learning of Hap’s passing, Cal responded to us, “Extremely sorry to hear about Hap.  I was looking forward so much to seeing him again—-He had all the stuff that Marines are SUPPOSED to have….Confidence and humility in every word.  I thank you two so much for bringing Hap to our home….Semper Fi, Cal”

And as to Cal Atwood, he just keeps on humming, writing his poetry, telling his stories, and raising money for his beloved Marines.  The 15th Annual Calvin “Cal” Atwood Marine Corps League Golf Tournament In Support of Community Events In Nassau County  held in October raised money to help our Nassau County families in need.

I’m sure it’s not too late to donate to this cause!  A check to the Marine Corps League will help less fortunate children in Nassau County to a better Christmas this December.  For more information about a donation email me at:    kathy@kathymillertime.com

From Cal’s book of poetry, ” the poems in The Isle of You are love poems, mostly love for his wife and love for his family, and for the Marine Corps, for the men with whom he fought in WWII, and a love, a constant and relentless love of life and living….

Those who have heard Atwood speak at public ceremonies know that his love and respect is not only for those who served as Marines, but for every man or woman who ever served in a uniform for the United States of America:  Army, Army Air Force, Coastguard, Navy, Merchant Marines, and Marines.”

Thank you Calvin Atwood and Hap Varner for your service!




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