75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima - FOX34 Lubbock

75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima

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A veteran salutes in front of the memorial A veteran salutes in front of the memorial
LUBBOCK, Texas -

 

"It gave hope to the American people, that picture that Joe Rosenthal took, it really gave re-birth to our nation, and gave us a fighting spirit, " Commander of the Veterans of Foreign wars of Lubbock, Benny Guerrero, said.


February 1945: morale for WWII was low. Thousands of soldiers were fighting a losing battle in the Pacific. 

But then came February 23, the day the iconic photo of 6 marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi was snapped. 

Its influence so powerful, it is credited with helping the allied forces eventually win the war. 

"Japanese history was written that it would take one million men, 1000 years to take that island and it took marines 4 days to get on top of Mt. Suribachi," Guerrero said. 

On Sunday, at the Lubbock Veteran's Memorial, dozens gathered to pay tribute and remember the sacrifices made before the names of area soldiers who died in combat. 

 

Bill Pasewark with his family.

95-year-old Bill Pasewark was at the critical battle in 1945. 


"Iwo Jima was different from fighting in Europe where people surrendered," Pasewark said. "That's tough to do that. You're fighting soldiers, but you're also fighting their God," he added.

The photo, displayed the tenacity of U.S. soldiers, as they faced uncharted territory. 

"We knew nothing about it. And on that day we were told, that it was just going to be an easy 3 day operation,"  Pasewark recalled.

"And just inch after inch until the island was ours, that is just the fighting spirit of the American man," Guerrero said.

 

Crowd gathers in front of the Lubbock Veteran's Memorial.

 


Although it took place 75 years ago the battle is still very much alive in the collective conscious of America. 

The battle lasted five weeks and 26,000 Americans died. 

It represented a major turning point for the Allied forces in the Pacific.

"The reason that we celebrate it, is that it was marking the beginning of the end of WWII," Guerrero said.

During the ceremony, a soldier's cross, using antique WWII equipment, was built to remember those who did not return from war. 

 

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