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Posted on this site with permission by the Cabot Star-Herald. The 31st Seabees
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|Austin man paved way for Marines
James Ballard (top) Ballard rests a moment on a dozer.
note: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest
battles of World War II. The battle began Feb. 19, 1945; the island was declared secured
on March 26, Iwo Jima-based fighter support for B-29s enroute to Japan began April 7.
Various sources note it as the largest invasion armada of the Pacific war up to that time.
Some reports state that about one-third of all Marines killed in action in World War II
were killed at Iwo Jima.
Almost 900 ships landed 110,000 U.S. Marines on the island. Among the Marines was
19-year-old James Ballard of Austin, a graduate of Ward High School.
An account of the role Ballard played in the ensuing battle and climb to the summit was
published in several newspaper articles. The articles were recently rediscovered by his
widow, now Faye Guyot, an Oak Grove resident, who was encouraged to share them with this
James Ballard died in May 1962 in a dozer accident in the Cabot area. The original
publishing dates and newspapers are not certain.
Bulldoze Trail up Mt. Suribachi
By 2nd Lt. Diggory Venn
Marine Corps Public Relations Officer
IWO JIMA (Delayed) Two Arkansas Seebees and a pair of 20-ton bulldozers with which
they spearheaded a road-making party have done their bit to change the face of the
Japanese homeland on this island.
Machinists mate First Class Albert L. Patterson, 34, of Danville, Machinists
Mate Third Class James D. Ballard, 19, of Austin were members of a Seabee battalion which
came ashore on D-Day, and it was their bulldozers which began making a trail up the
554-foot high Mt. Suribachi.
The winding road, which seems to cling to the sheer-sided volcanic crater, has completely
changed the mountains face.
Patterson, who has been a bulldozer operator since 1933, helped build the Naval Ammunition
Depot at McAlester, Okla., and worked with the Army Engineers in Panama before joining the
Seabees 16 months ago. He is married, and has an eight-year-old daughter, Wanda.
A graduate of Ward (Ark.) High School, young Ballard formerly was employed by a Kansas
City construction company. His wife is the former Miss Faye Goad, and a daughter was born
to them last January.
Combats Pave Way on Mt. Suribachi
Less than 14 hours after the first 20-ton bulldozers blade bit into the base of
Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, Seabee catskinners had pushed a pioneer trail to the top of
the extinct volcano, Second Lieutenant Diggory Venn, Marine Corps Public Relations
ALLOWED 3 WEEKS
The Seabees were alloted three weeks to build a road up to the 554-foot summit. Said Carp.
Jack Purcell of Santa Barbara, who bosses the 29-man road gang. Well have it
finished in 10 days, easy!
Credit for blazing the trail up the crater, which Marines call Snipers Summit,
is equally divided between three of Purcells men. They are Albert L. Patterson,
MM1c, of Danville, Ark., E.C. Cagle, MM1c, of Pauls Valley, Okla., and James D.
Ballard, MM3c, of Austin, Ark.
Ballard made the first high bluff into a tobaggan slide with an average 35 per cent grade.
While he smoothed and widened the lower trails, Patterson and Cagle together drove their
dozers to the top.
It was all right, said Cagle, as soon as you found you werent
going to roll off the mountain.
Marine patrols, dug in on the crater rim, received the Seabees with mixed feelings,
according to Ballard.
For one thing they had to move their foxholes, he said. Then they said
their privacy was gone because lots of people who wouldnt walk up the mountain could
drive up now. But at least they were pleased at the idea of not having to pack all the
their supplies to the top on their backs.
Two Arkansas Seabees Vary
Excitement on Iwo by climbing
Mt. Suribachi with Bulldozer
By Morrie Landsberg
Iwo Jima (AP) There was some excitement on this island when a B-29 made a forced
landing on the southern airstrip by that wasnt a patching on what happened the other
A bulldozer got to the top of Mt. Suribachi!
It really did. I saw it and so did thousands more who looked and marveled and some said:
Well, Ill be hornswoggled.
The Marines were fighting the Japanese in the north and there was that 20-ton bulldozer
sitting on the crater of the volcano.
The fact would have been reported sooner except that nobody knew the names of the men who
made the historic climb of the 555-foot high mountain at the end of Iwo.
The men are Seabees Albert Patterson, 34, of Danville, Ark., and E.C. Cagle, 33, of Pauls
Patterson and Cagle share the credit for blazing the mountain trail with Machinist Mate
Third Class James D. Ballard, 19, of Austin, Lonoke County, Ark.
The three of them Cagle, Patterson and Ballard all with 16 months service
behind them, landed on Iwo on the afternoon of D-Day. They worked the beaches for three
days under constant enemy fire building roads or beach exits and making ramps for landing
Marines were being killed all around us, said Patterson. When things got
too hot wed jump off our seats and take cover until the Marines got things under
The Seabees have been allowed three weeks to build a road to the summit, but Chief Warrant
Officer Jack Purcell, Santa Barbara, Calif., who bosses the 29-man road gang said: Well
have it finished in 10 days, easy.
and information for central Arkansas