Column: Local connections to Iwo Jima's famous photo

Jerry Jackson/Courtesy photo<br>
Nick Davirro shows off his famous bowling trophy.

Jerry Jackson/Courtesy photo<br> Nick Davirro shows off his famous bowling trophy.

Some of you may recall an item in my March 15 column concerning Nick Davirro - a feisty 92-year-old 135-pound fellow whose photo as a young Marine crawling up an embankment on an Iwo Jima beach in 1945 appeared in a book titled "The War: An Intimate History 1941-1945" by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. (Nick is recognizable in the 66-year-old photo, incidentally. That Roman nose of his is the kicker.)

Well, my March 22 column focused on another hero of the fierce fighting on Iwo Jima - Kendall Jenkins of Huntington Beach, Calif., who died Feb. 26 at the age of 89 and whose son, Roy, of Prescott Valley, tells of his dad witnessing the raising of the Stars and Stripes on Mt. Suribachi. Joe Rosenthal captured the flag-raising on film, resulting in what is reportedly the most displayed photograph of all time. Kendall described the experience in an article that appeared in the Orange County Register in 2000, noting that upon seeing the raising of the flag "it was at that moment, with the chills running throughout my body, that I truly understood what pride was all about."

At the time I spoke with Roy, he speculated whether his dad might've been the last surviving Marine to see the flag raising. Not so, according to Nick, as he said he was there too, all the while spraying the area with his .50-caliber machine gun to keep the Japanese defenders "in their holes" as five Marines and a Navy corpsman combined to hoist the flag. Tragically, three of those six servicemen did not survive the fighting on the island.

As an aside, Kendall and Nick shared another passion in addition to being Leatherneck warriors. Both were heavy into boxing, with Kendall being a Golden Gloves champ and an undefeated pugilist in numerous bouts against fellow 4th Division Marines, whereas Nick was a perennial winner in his amateur bouts. There was one notable exception, though, when he volunteered to go in the ring with a Marine who was a former Pennsylvania coal miner who weighed 220 pounds or so. After poor Nick got knocked down a bunch of times, the ref - actor Robert Ryan - awarded a TKO to his adversary, apparently fearing that Nick might very well get himself killed if he allowed the bout to continue.

But let's move along from boxing to bowling. You see, Nick and I share fortunes on the same team down at Prescott's Plaza Bowl, along with Nick's wife Doris and David Humphrey. (Chances are you may not remember my column of February 23, 2010, when I marveled at Nick's rolling a 192 line, which surprised just about everybody. In recognition of the feat, Frank Finley fashioned a trophy that stands 3 3/4 inches high and is displayed as prominently as possible on Nick's mantle in his Chino Valley home.)

Anyway, our team had been doing quite well in recent weeks until March 28, when we dropped all four marks, one of which I lost for us single-handedly. You see, Nick - who averages 107, had a whale of a first line with a 139, but I - a 134 bowler - posted a miserable 100! It was a pathetic performance on my part, and resulted in the team's losing the line by six pins. Our team went on to get blown away in the last two lines - hey, we couldn't have won either one of them with an adding machine! -helped along by Bob Hester's 195 in the last line.

Who does Bob think he is, Warren Robinson? (Warren, for the unknowing, is the league's "kingpin," with an average crowding 190 or so. And his high game of 213 and series of 578 was tops for the day.)

So ends this tale of woe.

Contact the columnist at editorial@prescottaz.com.