Paved Way For Marines On Suribachi!

Paved Way For Marines On Suribachi!

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

March 11th, 2005, 10:03 pm #1

Austin man ‘paved’ way for Marines

James Ballard (top) Ballard rests a moment on a dozer.

Editor’s note: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The battle began Feb. 19, 1945; the island was declared secured on March 26, Iwo Jima-based fighter support for B-29s enroute to Japan began April 7.

Various sources note it as the largest invasion armada of the Pacific war up to that time. Some reports state that about one-third of all Marines killed in action in World War II were killed at Iwo Jima.

Almost 900 ships landed 110,000 U.S. Marines on the island. Among the Marines was 19-year-old James Ballard of Austin, a graduate of Ward High School.

An account of the role Ballard played in the ensuing battle and climb to the summit was published in several newspaper articles. The articles were recently rediscovered by his widow, now Faye Guyot, an Oak Grove resident, who was encouraged to share them with this newspaper.

James Ballard died in May 1962 in a dozer accident in the Cabot area. The original publishing dates and newspapers are not certain.

Bulldoze Trail up Mt. Suribachi

By 2nd Lt. Diggory Venn
Marine Corps Public Relations Officer

IWO JIMA (Delayed) – Two Arkansas Seebees and a pair of 20-ton bulldozers with which they spearheaded a road-making party have done their bit to change the face of the Japanese homeland on this island.

Machinist’s mate First Class Albert L. Patterson, 34, of Danville, Machinist’s Mate Third Class James D. Ballard, 19, of Austin were members of a Seabee battalion which came ashore on D-Day, and it was their bulldozers which began making a trail up the 554-foot high Mt. Suribachi.

The winding road, which seems to cling to the sheer-sided volcanic crater, has completely changed the mountain’s face.

Patterson, who has been a bulldozer operator since 1933, helped build the Naval Ammunition Depot at McAlester, Okla., and worked with the Army Engineers in Panama before joining the Seabees 16 months ago. He is married, and has an eight-year-old daughter, Wanda.

A graduate of Ward (Ark.) High School, young Ballard formerly was employed by a Kansas City construction company. His wife is the former Miss Faye Goad, and a daughter was born to them last January.

Combats Pave Way on Mt. Suribachi

Less than 14 hours after the first 20-ton bulldozer’s blade bit into the base of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, Seabee catskinners had pushed a pioneer trail to the top of the extinct volcano, Second Lieutenant Diggory Venn, Marine Corps Public Relations Officer, reported.


The Seabees were alloted three weeks to build a road up to the 554-foot summit. Said Carp. Jack Purcell of Santa Barbara, who bosses the 29-man road gang. “We’ll have it finished in 10 days, easy!”

Credit for blazing the trail up the crater, which Marines call “Snipers’ Summit,” is equally divided between three of Purcell’s men. They are Albert L. Patterson, MM1c, of Danville, Ark., E.C. Cagle, MM1c, of Paul’s Valley, Okla., and James D. Ballard, MM3c, of Austin, Ark.


Ballard made the first high bluff into a tobaggan slide with an average 35 per cent grade. While he smoothed and widened the lower trails, Patterson and Cagle together drove their dozers to the top.

“It was all right,” said Cagle, “as soon as you found you weren’t going to roll off the mountain.”

Marine patrols, dug in on the crater rim, received the Seabees with mixed feelings, according to Ballard.

“For one thing they had to move their foxholes,” he said. “Then they said their privacy was gone because lots of people who wouldn’t walk up the mountain could drive up now. But at least they were pleased at the idea of not having to pack all the their supplies to the top on their backs.”

Two Arkansas Seabees Vary
Excitement on Iwo by climbing
Mt. Suribachi with Bulldozer

By Morrie Landsberg

Iwo Jima (AP) – There was some excitement on this island when a B-29 made a forced landing on the southern airstrip by that wasn’t a patching on what happened the other day.

A bulldozer got to the top of Mt. Suribachi!

It really did. I saw it and so did thousands more who looked and marveled and some said: “Well, I’ll be hornswoggled.”

The Marines were fighting the Japanese in the north and there was that 20-ton bulldozer sitting on the crater of the volcano.

The fact would have been reported sooner except that nobody knew the names of the men who made the historic climb of the 555-foot high mountain at the end of Iwo.
The men are Seabees Albert Patterson, 34, of Danville, Ark., and E.C. Cagle, 33, of Paul’s Valley, Okla.

Patterson and Cagle share the credit for blazing the mountain trail with Machinist Mate Third Class James D. Ballard, 19, of Austin, Lonoke County, Ark.

The three of them – Cagle, Patterson and Ballard – all with 16 months service behind them, landed on Iwo on the afternoon of D-Day. They worked the beaches for three days under constant enemy fire building roads or beach exits and making ramps for landing craft.

“Marines were being killed all around us,” said Patterson. “When things got too hot we’d jump off our seats and take cover until the Marines got things under control again.”

The Seabees have been allowed three weeks to build a road to the summit, but Chief Warrant Officer Jack Purcell, Santa Barbara, Calif., who bosses the 29-man road gang said: “We’ll have it finished in 10 days, easy.”

R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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