BETHANY - Alfred Mauro was among the more than 1,000 Marine and Navy survivors of the most savage Pacific Island battle of World War II who watched commissioning of the USS Iwo Jima aircraft carrier at the Pensacola, Fla., Naval Base June 30. There also were 10,000 others who attended the ceremony.
As he watched, the Marine Corps veteran said, "I thanked God someone thought of the infantry" in designing the $1.2 billion amphibious assault ship. "The technology we have (now) will save lives," he said, because this new class of small carriers (40,500 tons, 844 feet long) carry 30 helicopters to ferry troops ashore. No more climbing down rope ladders to heaving landing craft , then bouncing through rough seas, exposed to enemy fire, demolition barriers and violent seasickness. No more wading ashore under withering fire with 60 - to - 100 pound packs. Troops won't get soaked, either, he said.