Foulke, 89, was among last Las Vegas Iwo Jima fighters


Marines on Thursday will bury Chet Foulke, who was one of the last remaining retired Marines from Las Vegas who fought on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

Foulke died Dec. 31 at age 89.

A funeral with full military honors is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Chester A. "Chet" Foulke was born July 19, 1922.

The private first class out of Quakertown, Pa., was a demolition expert with Company C of the 5th Engineer Battalion and served on the front line at Iwo Jima for 36 days after the Marines launched their assault on the eight-square-mile Pacific island on Feb. 19, 1945.

A key objective was to secure the heavily fortified Mount Suribachi. Five days into the fighting, a pair of historic U.S. flag raisings took place on the mountain.

In interviews with the Las Vegas Review-Journal six decades later, Foulke recounted the Marines' advance against the Japanese and the conditions he endured.

"It was an awful battle, the way we got slaughtered," he said, after previewing Clint Eastwood's film, "Flags of Our Fathers," in 2006.

"Some days you'd make it 100 or 200 yards. Some days 500 yards," he said, adding that he "didn't have a hot meal the whole time."

Foulke was at the foot of Mount Suribachi when the first U.S. flag flapped in the breeze. In the distance, Marines cheered, horns on ships blared, and tears of joy rolled down his face.

"I was standing there looking up when that flag went up, and tears ran down my face. I was just so happy to see that flag that I knew they were not going to push us off or do away with us. I felt so happy," he told the Review-Journal an interview at the Leatherneck Club for the 60th anniversary of the battle.

At the request of commanders, a larger flag from one of the ships was hoisted later, captured in an iconic image made famous by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Foulke joined the Marine Corps in September 1943 after working at an aircraft plant near Philadelphia before the war. He trained in South Carolina, California and Hawaii to prepare for the assault on Iwo Jima.

After the war ended, he was stationed in Japan for seven months and retired as a corporal.

He moved to Las Vegas in 1972 and was a founding member of the local Marine Corps League.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.