World War II Veterans To Speak at EIU


Published on November 6 2013 10:08 am
Last Updated on November 6 2013 10:08 am
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON (October 25, 2013):  Two veterans from one of WWII’s fiercest and bloodiest battles will be this year’s special guest speakers during Eastern Illinois University James Jones WWII Chair Lecture Series.  The program-panel will take place at7 p.m. Thursday, November 7in the Lumpkin Hall Auditorium located on the Charleston campus.

The lecture-panel discussion, From the Sands of Iwo Jima: Two Veterans Recall Their Battle Experiences, features Leighton Willhite, 5th Tank Marine Battalion, and Jim Baize, Navy Boatswain's Mate.  The panel moderator will be Ray Elliott.

As 19 year old United States Marine, Leighton Willhite served as the driver of a Sherman tank on Iwo Jima.

Jim Baize was in the second wave of the Iwo Jima invasion when the landing craft he was in was blown up killing 38 marines and three sailors.  As the only survivor he was pulled to the beach by a marine and spent the next week fighting with the 4th Marine Division before being wounded a second time.

Both Willhite and Baize witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.  Joe Rosenthal’s image of marines and sailors raising the flag on Mount Suribachi is probably one of he most famous images from World War II.

Moderator Ray Elliott is a director and three-time past president of the James Jones Literary Society. He is an author of historical fiction pertaining to World War II and has published numerous works of nonfiction by other writers. He was a longtime English and journalism instructor at both the secondary and collegiate level. Ray Elliott currently serves as communications director for the Iwo Jima Association of America and editor of the Fifth Marine Division Association's publication, The Spearhead.   Most recently he served as the military adviser to the musical production of From Here To Eternity.

Eastern’s English and History Departments and the James Jones Literary Society are collaborating in an effort to develop a Chair in World War II Studies at Eastern Illinois University.  Every fall EIU brings distinguished speakers in historical or literary studies relating to World War II to the Charleston campus.  Past speakers have included Tim O’Brien, author of the Vietnam novel The Things They Carried, and Elizabeth Borgwardt, Professor of History at Washington University, speaking on “The Atlantic Charter and the Genesis of Human Rights”.

The James Jones WWII Chair Lecture Series is presented as part of the many activities surrounding the annual James Jones Literary Society Conference.  Other events include the day long conference with the theme James Jones Uncensored which will take place at the Quail Creek Country Club in Robinson, Illinois onNovember 8and Remembering the Handy Writers Colony scheduled at the Marshall Public Library at1 p.m. November 9.

The Lumpkin Hall Auditorium is in Lumpkin Hall which is located just south of Booth Library.  Convenient accessible free parking is located off of 4th Street in Charleston. For more information please call217-581-3310or