Iwo Jima survivor stepping back on the Pacific island - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iwo Jima survivor stepping back on the Pacific island after 67 years

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A World War II veteran, and Iwo Jima survivor, is preparing to make a trip of a lifetime. On March 10th, David Greene will travel to Iwo Jima alongside U.S. Representative Bruce Braley -- whose father also fought in that battle.

The Battle of Iwo Jima is one of the most iconic in American history. Unfortunately, there are very few men still alive to tell their stories about what happened on that island. A lot of the remaining veterans walked away from their service, and Iwo Jima, and never looked back. But Greene is happy to tell you anything you'd want to know about the battle.

"Our regiment was 3,000 people. We went on the Iwo Jima with 3,111 people. We left the island with 1,410," he recalled.

He remembers the battles like they happened yesterday. But it's hard to imagine that, in seven days, he'll step back on that black sandy beach.

"It's just an unbelievable thing to me," he noted.

Greene is traveling free of charge with an organization based out of Colorado. The Greatest Generations Foundation is working to fly surviving Iwo Jima veterans to the island for one last look at their former battlefield. It's a group that caught the attention of Braley in 2011.

"Iwo Jima has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. And to sit here in David's home and share memories that are so vibrant to him 67 years later, it's just an incredible honor," he said.

Next week, Braley will travel alongside Greene. But they won't be the only ones on the trip. A group of college students is going -- and Greene can't wait to fill their heads with his stories.

"There's a lot of pictures in here that nobody has really ever seen, except the Marine Corps," Greene remarked, paging through one of his Marine Corps newspapers from 1945.

"Their stories are such an important part of our nation's history. Even though my father never talked about his experience while he was on Iwo Jima, he talked a lot about Iwo Jima. And you knew it was one of the most important events in his life. It shaped everything he did after that. So that's why it's important for David and his generation to share their stories with today's young people. So we don't lose that legacy," Braley said.

And that's Greene's goal moving forward -- to keep telling the real story behind the battle of Iwo Jima. Because someday, he won't be around to dig through the pages of his papers and books. But he'd like to think the next generation will still be interested in reading them.

Greene will celebrate his 87th birthday next week -- just before heading out on his trip. He says, it seems fitting, since he marked his 20th birthday on the Iwo Jima battlefield.

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