Richard Jessor – one of WW II’s super-heroes 

When I think of War, my most recent memories are of course Vietnam, then Iraq and Afghanistan. Vietnam was truly my coming of age –protesting the Vietnam War right in the 1960’s in the San Francisco Bay area. My father fought in World War II and said it was the only time he really earned his paycheck. World War II was clearly the most moral war we have fought, one we had to win at all costs. If the Axis powers, Japan, Italy and Nazi Germany had succeeded and won this war, the face of the entire world would have been changed possibly forever. This war called upon the bravest of the brave.

Iwo Jima was the first Japanese soil conquered by US Forces. This tiny island was a key component of the Allies’ strategy to capture islands closing in on Japan from which to launch our powerful B-29 bombers which delivered 1000’s of tons of ordinance and eventually the 2 atomic bombs that brought Japan to its knees. The cost was immense to capture the island which had long been preparing for its defense, connecting through caves much of the island where the Japanese soldiers could wait out the naval bombardment proceeding the invasion. The strategic Mount Siribachi dominated one end of the island which was the last stand for the Japanese defenders. 7000 Americans paid for Iwo Jima’s capture, making it by far one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. More Medals of Honor were awarded here than at any other battle in US History. The survivors are some of the bravest soldiers io our history. 

Last week, I had the great honor to meet Richard Jessor, a 98-year World War II hero of the battle for Iwo Jima. This small island was a key stepping-stone in the Allies’ advance on Japan’s mainland. This gentleman had all his wits about him, (much better than I do at 75!) was funny, articulate and still physically fit, traveling with his wife Jane Menken. I am including some photos from Richard’s time during and after the war. He is as handsome now as he was in his 20’s, and as much a hero in my eyes as if he himself were at this very moment raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. Both he and Jane had fantastic careers as professors at the University of Colorado. There is a link attached to read more about Richard’s professional teaching career. One picture I have included shows Richard holding a Japanese Flag on Iwo Jima and another of him as the longest serving professor at University of Colorado.

No picture from WW II better symbolizes the bravery exhibited by our soldiers than the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. 

If you ever run across Richard and Jane, you will have the great experience of talking to a real hero!

Joe Schepps
Inn On The Alameda

To learn more about Mr. Jessor, got to: