During an annual North Miami Beach history tour, military buff Bruce Lamberto visited his father’s gravesite at Caballero Rivero Southern Memorial Park in neighboring North Miami.
That’s when he saw the tombstone of U.S. Marine Cpl. Howard Bryce Hinson, a North Miami Beach veteran who died in the Battle of Iwo Jima, a pivotal offensive during World War II that was one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. Marine history.
Hinson was 20 years old.
Lamberto reached out to City of North Miami Beach officials, and thus began his effort to honor Hinson. On Monday, North Miami Beach will dedicate a quarter-acre park located on 160th Street and Northeast 14 Avenue and name it after Hinson.
“We seem to name things after politicians whether they are good or bad,” said Lamberto, whose father George Lamberto is a World War II veteran who died in 2003. “In this case, I thought it would be appropriate to name the park to honor those who faced the ultimate sacrifice.”
Hinson’s brother, Don, and his son will fly in from Colorado to witness the dedication. He has not been to North Miami Beach in years.
“I think it is wonderful,” said the 83-year-old Don, who served two tours in Vietnam. “My brother loved his country and was willing to defend it like so many others. It is nice that the City of North Miami Beach is doing this.”
Hinson enlisted in the Marines when he was 18 in 1942. The United States had entered World War II after the Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
He served in the Pacific and took part in the battles of Saipan, Tinian and the Marshall Islands.
On Feb. 19, 1945, the Marines invaded Iwo Jima, a Pacific island 660 miles south of Tokyo controlled by Japanese military forces during World War II. The island was important because the Japanese were using it to launch fighter jets, which were intercepting B29s.
The battle was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, according to the National World War II Museum in Washington. Nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed in the 36-day battle, which ended when the Marines secured the island on March 16, 1945. Another 20,000 were wounded.
Cpl. Hinson was killed on the first day of the battle, Feb. 19, 1945.
When the War Department notified his parents of its intentions to move his remains to the national cemetery in Hawaii, they objected and fought for his remains to be buried in his hometown of North Miami Beach. They won, and he was buried with full military honors.
A plaque with Hinson’s information will be placed in the park along with a plaque in memory of 32 North Miami Beach veterans who died during World War II and in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The park used to house a pump station, but was recently transformed into an open space with a walkway and vegetation.
North Miami Beach Commissioner Barbara Kramer applauded Bruce’s efforts.
“I am excited about this effort started by a friend and constituent Bruce,” said Kramer, who hosts the annual North Miami Beach history tour. “It is something he is passionate about. All over the country there is something there to honor our fallen heroes. It is important to remember the people that are heroic and put their lives on the line for our freedom.”