FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Survivors and many veterans attended a ceremony Friday at the Leavenworth National Cemetary to pay tribute to the 70th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima.
Lt. Col. Mitchell Hoines, the executive officer of Fort Leavenworth marines, said there are very few survivors left, and it's important to honor each and every one of them.
"Marines pride ourselves on our history, so number one we honor our marines before us, and we know that history helps us honor them but also helps us keep and create that fighting spirit that we have in the marine corp," Hoines said.
The battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle in which the U.S. armed forces captured the island from the Japanese imperial army during World War II. Iwo Jima was the site of the iconic flag raising picture.
"We had over 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers there willing to fight and die...and fight and die they did," Hoines said.
"The only time I ever cried in the marine corp, and I did a lot of combat, when I saw all those graves," 87-year-old Jerry Ingram said.
Ingram, who joined the marine corp at age 15, said he lied about his age to join and became a tank commander on Iwo Jima at 17 years old.
"Never in my wildest imagination, I didn't think i`d live one day to the next at that time in life," Ingram said. "One out of three marines there were either killed or wounded...one out of three. We had more marines killed in Iwo Jima than in all the battles they had during the Korean War."