World War II vet, 93, reflects on Iwo Jima and food for the soul

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published July 1, 2019

 Dr. Lori Haddad and her father, World War II veteran Ayoub “David” Haddad, show the book that shares her father’s recipes and his recount of his time on Iwo Jima.

Dr. Lori Haddad and her father, World War II veteran Ayoub “David” Haddad, show the book that shares her father’s recipes and his recount of his time on Iwo Jima.

Photo by Terry Oparka

 His faith sustains Ayoub “David” Haddad, who wrote this book containing Lebanese recipes and his account of his time on Iwo Jima.

His faith sustains Ayoub “David” Haddad, who wrote this book containing Lebanese recipes and his account of his time on Iwo Jima.

Photo by Terry Oparka

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TROY — Troy resident Ayoub “David” Haddad, 93, joined the U.S. Marine Corps as soon as he could at age 18 in 1943.

His brother, Solomon “Sam” Haddad, had joined the Marines when David was a sophomore at Pershing High School.

The Haddad family immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon, and David was born here in 1925.

After a six-week crash-course basic training in San Diego starting in November of 1943, David headed to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, for advanced training, where he qualified as a sharpshooter with an M1 rifle.

Nine months later, he was deployed to the central Pacific. In early 1945, he boarded the USS Sandoval bound for the western Pacific and the volcanic island of Iwo Jima.

The Battle of Iwo Jima is described as a fierce and bloody five-week battle to capture the entire island, including three Japanese airfields.

David gave an oral interview about his time on Iwo Jima in 2003 to Michael Bylen, who sits on the board of trustees at the National D-Day Museum, now the World War II Museum, in New Orleans. It is included in a cookbook David wrote with his daughter, Lori Haddad, a physician. His niece, Cathy Haddad, Sam’s daughter, helped with the photos.

The book is titled “I’m Possible: The Mediterranean Diet Lebanese Cookbook,” published by Christian Faith Publishing, available on Amazon.

Lori said that her father has had multiple strokes, and together they realized the health benefits of the food David grew up with.

“We realized how healthy our food really is,” she said.

Featured recipes in the book include hummus, baba ghanoush, homemade yogurt, yogurt and cucumbers, katka, meatballs, Lebanese meat and spinach pies, tabbouleh, fattoush, lentils, kibbeh and Umo’s Famous 18-egg omelet. There are also sections for sauces and rubs, and desserts.

Lori and David credit his survival on the battlefield with the 3rd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Division and following the strokes to his strong Christian faith.

“He’s always positive and reaching out to others,” Lori said. Once helped onto his recumbent bike, he rides 3-6 miles each day.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” David said.

In the book, he recounts how he and Sam, who David hadn’t seen in three years, found each other amid the carnage on Iwo Jima.

He spoke about feeling some tugging on the straps of his backpack while he was under heavy fire and discovering that bullets had been fired at his torso and chest, “without touching me.”

He also recalled being exhausted in a foxhole, but unable to sleep while under fire. David said he and another soldier were ordered to sleep as Dobermans would stand watch. “The leader of the dogs said, ‘You can sleep. The dogs will watch over you.’”

They awoke in the morning to discover the dogs had killed two Japanese attackers during the night.

 

Finding his brother
In his book, David writes that after five weeks on Iwo Jima, his clothes were in tatters and he had lost 30 pounds after hardly eating for three weeks. He said the Marines were only given rations to last three days; after that, they ate what they scavenged.

He later discovered that the 3rd Marine Division, Sam’s outfit, had landed to replace his division.

David asked a Marine if he knew his brother, and was told that Sam was “out here somewhere, looking for his brother.”

When David found him, Sam noticed that David was limping and took him to a Red Cross tent. The doctor found two red lines “running up my legs like serpentines,” he says in the book. He had shrapnel wounds in his legs that had become infected. “And they treated me. In the meantime, my brother got me a new machine gun” to replace David’s damaged one.

The brothers didn’t see each other again until the war was over.

After the war, he and Sam opened a grocery store in Detroit, Haddad’s Market, which closed in the late 1960s. Sam died at age 50 in 1971.

David was hired at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, where he met his wife, Eloise, in 1955, hired on the same day.

The cookbook is a compilation of recipes he cooked for family and friends throughout his life, Lori said.

“People kept asking me to put a cookbook together,” said David, who will be at a multi-author event at the Barnes & Noble store at 2800 Rochester Road in Rochester Hills noon-4 p.m. Aug. 24 with signed copies of the book.

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