Waterloo veteran shares story of his return to Iwo Jima - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo veteran shares story of his return to Iwo Jima 67 years after WWII


World War II veteran David Greene is among a dwindling number of survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima. A few months ago, the Waterloo native returned to the island -- along with nine other veterans and a group of history students.

This weekend, he is sharing his experiences at Waterloo's Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum.

It doesn't take much to get Greene talking about world war two, and more specifically, about Iwo Jima. He makes it a priority to speak with young people at schools, events, or in small groups.

"Some of the time I've been invited to give a seven to ten minute speech. I said -- that's difficult for me! That just gets me going," said Greene.

In March, Greene returned to Iwo Jima for the first time since leaving the island in 1945.

"To us, it's a hallowed place. There were thousands of us killed -- 7,000 marines died there. 21,000 were wounded. And those numbers sound big. But they don't sound near as big until you say, this all happened in 36 days," he remarked.

He was one of just nine Iwo Jima survivors to make the trip. Greene is well aware of the significance of his presence during the weekend's ceremonies and tours. Not for himself, but for fellow veterans who have already passed.

"The adulations are really not for me, but for all of those that were there at that time. I just happen to be the guy that's here that somebody can talk to," he explained.

Saturday, Greene will display his artifacts and photos from his trip, and from the war, at the Veterans Museum in Waterloo. More importantly, he's sharing his stories.

"I want the story to be right. There are so many things that are written that are really a stretch of the imagination or out and out wrong," said Greene.

And he wants the story to keep getting told. Which is why Greene won't be the only one speaking Saturday. Caitlin Bentley, a history student from Ohio State University, made the trip to Iwo Jima with him.

"I told her to get that education over as fast as she can, because I want to be the first guy to get into your classroom and talk about what we just went through!"

Greene has charged her with a big task -- after he's gone, she will keep this story going.

Greene's "Iwo Jima Revisited" presentations are Saturday at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00 at the Waterloo Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum. The event is included with the price of regular admission: $10 for adults, $5 for veterans and active duty military members, and $5 for children. For more information call 319-234-6357.

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