Marine Crosses "Death Valley" Under Fire

Private First Class Paul E. "Pop" Ison (1916-2001) of the 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division runs across a draw nicknamed "Death Valley." Ison, a flamethrower and demolitions expert, was sent across 75 yards (68.5 meters) of exposed ground to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Expecting to be given explosives for his mission, Captain Robert Smith told him that he was expected to bring it with him. He returned to his unit and obtained the explosives and returned to L Company, his third trip under fire. Marines sustained more than 125 casualties in eight hours crossing this area. The enemy positions to the immediate front of 5th Marines were organized around an area of rough ground known later as Awacha Pocket, northeast of Dakeshi and south of the town of Awacha. Here again the close teamwork of tanks and infantry, supported by heavy weapons, provided the only means of advance. Encircling this pocket required a week and was not finally accomplished until May 11. By that time the Marines had uncovered even more formidable positions to the south at Dakeshi Ridge and Wana. Ison, a father of four, could have deferred the draft but volunteered for the Marines.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, May 10, 1945