FOR many of his 85 years, Franklin W. Hobbs III has managed to distill good fortune from bad luck. Orphaned at 10, he wound up in the care of loving — and wealthy — grandparents. After World War II snatched him from Harvard, the G. I. Bill sent him back for a master's in business administration. Rocky moments in his career often led to lucrative, fulfilling opportunities.
And so it was on Iwo Jima in the winter of 1945.
Mr. Hobbs, an untested corporal in the Army Signal Corps, doubted he would survive the barrage of mortar shells and gunfire awaiting him on the Japanese island's besieged beach. Then he met a streetwise Detroit schoolteacher named Schnarr, who tossed four words his way: "Stick with me, Frank." The unlikely pair clambered off the boat together and stepped past scores of slain and wounded Marines.