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WWII veterans remember Iwo Jima battle on 78th anniversary

78th anniversary of Iwo Jima
Posted at 7:49 AM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 07:49:44-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — February 19 marks the 78th anniversary of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.

On Sunday a special ceremony was held by the Marine Corps League to commemorate the flag-raising.

“It was a heavy loss of life and it was a very crucial battle,” said Petro Kurkimilis a World War II veteran.

Dozens of veterans, military servicemen, and community embers gathered to honor the day.

The Marine Corps League honored local World War II veterans to thank them for their service.

Alfred Lackey was seated front row in the ceremony. He said he still remembers the battle of Iwo Jima.

Seventy-eight years later and the memory still brings tears to his eyes.

Lackey served as a scrub nurse in the Pacific.

“Our responsibility was to unload the planes they would bring soldiers to the hospital to get treated we loved those guys we really did,” he said.

It’s a love he still holds to this day.

“Many times when they would come back from the battle they would say tell me doc, am I going to live? I’d say your’e going to live we’re going to take care of you,” he said.

As Lackey wiped tears from his eyes he said he feels so lucky to be alive and to have been able to enjoy a fulfilled life.

“Thousands of them. They never had the privilege of living as I did. They never had the privilege of holding their girlfriend's hand or being a daddy,” he said.

The battle was one of the bloodiest in Marine Corps history and a pivotal win for the U.S. Allied Forces.

“It was a critical island. We had to take it and it showed the Japanese that they were on their way out. We were going to win the war,” Kurkimilis said.