DENVER (3/9/10) – World War II veteran U.S. Marines return from Iwo Jima following the 65th anniversary of the battle for the Japanese-held island.
The combat-hardened men, many of whom were still teenagers when they fired their first rounds against Japanese troops entrenched there in 1945, were aided on the journey by the Greatest Generation Foundation.
When an international misunderstanding almost kept these Marines from landing on the island this year, Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter helped assure they reached their destination.
“From the halls of Montezuma
The men were welcomed home by throngs of family members, fellow veterans, Colorado National Guardsmen, current Marines, airline and airport employees, fellow passengers and many other well-wishers, at Denver International Airport.
Following a ceremony for the heroes in the airport atrium, the Iwo Jima Marines, standing at perfect attention, sang their hymn. Even after 65 years, they still knew the words:
To the shores of Tripoli
We will fight our country’s battles
On the land and on the sea*
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marines”
*According to Marine Corps Lore, Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change verse's fourth line from "On the land as on the sea" to "In the air, on land, and sea" Nov. 21, 1942, to reflect the addition of aviation into the Marine Corps. (Source: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., reprinted 1963)