Hugh Breakenridge - Captain
- Purple Heart
Captain Hugh Wallace Breakenridge was born in Traer, Iowa on July 19, 1919 to William J. Breakenridge and S. Edith McMillan. His hometown was Dinsdale, Iowa.
He graduated from Iowa State College in 1941 and married Margaret K. Kepler on January 17, 1942 in Waterloo, Iowa.
Hugh entered the Marines on May 12, 1942 in Quantico, Virginia. He became a second lieutenant in September of that year; first lieutenant in December, 1943; and captain in July 1944.
Hugh died while leading his company in the final attack to capture the Motayama airfield on Iwo Jima on February 27, 1945. He had taken command of the company during Iwo Jima's D-Day, after all of his superior officers had been killed or wounded. His citations include two Purple Hearts (June 22, 1943 at Saipan, and the second at Iwo Jima), and a Presidential Citation for the invasion of the Marianas.
His mother wrote in an editorial in the Des Moines Register on April 8, 1945, defending the decision American military leaders made to invade Iwo Jima:
"It is cold comfort now to study the statistics of that bloody battle. We still believe our military leaders are doing their best to win this with the least possible cost in American lives. Had they known just how costly the conquest of Iwo would have been, they might have done differently, who knows? They were sure of one thing when they stormed the island and that was that they would take it away from the Jap at whateve cost, and this they did to the everlasting glory of the United States marines. This is a war to to the death in all its stark reality, and we of this generation should bow our heads in shame that we have permitted the things to happen that brought it all about. I wonder if Senator Borah and the rest of the rabid isolationists would say if the could see the results of their handiwork. The sacrifices of these boys and thousands of others who have given and will give their all in this war will gives us one more opportunity to try and build a civilization where free men can live at peace, and we must not, we dare not, fail again."