‘Operation Home of the Brave’ Issues RFP to Construct New Iwo Jima Memorial to Commemorate U.S. Marine Corps and Iconic Moment in United States History

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Historic project to commemorate Marine Corps’ valor on Iwo Jima with iconic memorial at Camp Pendleton moves forward as non-profit organizers ramp up fund-raising, seek memories from surviving Iwo Jima vets

This truly is a monument in need of a home, and what better place than Camp Pendleton.

Seventy years ago today, United States Marine Corps and Navy servicemen stormed a Pacific island called Iwo Jima, and on Day 5 of this intense battle, one of the most historic images in American history occurred.

Now, Laura Dietz of Newport Beach, Calif., is fighting to ensure that moment – the iconic raising of the American flag atop Mount Suribachi amid savage fighting in the closing stages of World War II – is never forgotten.

Dietz has founded Operation Home of the Brave, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a lasting memorial of the historic flagraising at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, the largest Marine Corps installation on the West Coast and the home of the Corps divisions that fought on Iwo Jima.

Since the project was announced November 2013, Dietz has established the site area for the memorial where the Iwo Jima monument will find a permanent home. An architect has been retained and requests for proposals from contracting firms are ready to go out. All contractors wishing to receive a copy of the RFP are encouraged to contact Laura at marinesoniwojima(at)gmail.com.

“We are very excited about our current momentum,” said Dietz, 69. “All of us are eager to see this to fruition so that some of the surviving Marines who fought on Iwo Jima can see the vision fulfilled.”

Dietz is also looking for Iwo Jima veterans who can share their stories. All Iwo Jima veterans are encouraged to contact her at marinesoniwojima(at)gmail.com.

“It’s the human element that will bring this memorial to life for future generations,” she said. “I’m hoping that some of the surviving veterans will contact us so we can chronicle their experience and preserve those memories forever.”

The centerpiece of the memorial at Camp Pendleton will be a Felix deWeldon statue that is a slightly smaller version of deWeldon's 80-ton bronze known as the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., depicting five Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the Stars and Stripes atop Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.

“Imagine this iconic symbol of American courage that represents every Marine who has ever served or given his life on a hill, embraced by a wall covered in American flags, flying 24/7, lit at night in red, white and blue to catch the eye of Marines and passersby on Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles,” Dietz said.

The historic moment on Iwo Jima was captured by war photographer Joe Rosenthal. The picture, “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,” became one of the most reproduced photos of all time and is the only photo to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year of its publication.

Operation Home of the Brave seeks to raise $3-4 million to complete the project, Dietz said. Those funds would be used to complete the architectural design of the Camp Pendleton memorial, then to purchase and ship the statue to California from Connecticut. Dietz plans to raise the monies from private donations.

“This truly is a monument in need of a home, and what better place that Camp Pendleton.” Dietz said.

While only a handful of Iwo Jima survivors are still alive, the idea of Operation Home of the Brave resonates strongly with them, Dietz said.

“One survivor, Sgt. Major Mike Mervosh, asked me recently, ‘How soon can you get it to Camp Pendleton? You know, we Marines (from Iwo Jima) are dying and I don’t know how long my buddies and I can hold on (to see the monument at Pendleton),’“ she said, adding "Hopefully these heroes won’t have to wait much longer."

Participating in Operation Home of the Brave
For contractors: For information and to receive a RFP, please contact Laura Dietz at marinesoniwojima(at)gmail.com.
Donations: Any donations, large or small, will help make this vision a reality and are fully tax-deductible.

To make donations to Operation Home of the Brave, please visit http://www.marinesoniwojima.com. The website contains details about the non-profit efforts to secure the statue, the vision, and how to donate.

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Bob Silver