Although it was 73 years ago, Jerry Ingram said he still remembers his time as a 17-year-old Marine tank commander fighting on Iwo Jima.
“It was hot, miserable, loud,” he said. “There is nothing nice about war. … In war, there is so much sacrificing and unfortunately, death and destruction.”
Ingram, 90, was one of the Iwo Jima veterans attending the annual Iwo Jima Memorial Ceremony Friday afternoon at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Ingram was not injured in the fight, and counts himself lucky.
He said approximately 6,800 U.S. servicemen were killed on Iwo Jima, and more than 25,000 were wounded during a battle that raged from Feb. 19, 1945, to March 26, 1945.
“I was one of the fortunate ones,” he said. “I didn’t get hurt. I moved fast and dodged bullets.”
Ingram said he has not returned to visit the island, and has never wanted to.
“We fought so our children could be free,” Ingram said. “Soldiers today are doing the same thing.”
In one of the more poignant moments during the ceremony, Col. Steve Lewallen joined Ingram in front of the Iwo Jima memorial and sprinkled sand from the island on the top of it.
Lewallen, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Detachment at the Command and General Staff College on Fort Leavenworth, was the guest speaker during the event.
Lewallen said the ceremony was more than a time to honor a specific division.
“We honor a generation that saved the world,” he said.
At the end of the ceremony, numerous veterans laid flowers at the memorial in honor of family and friends who served in the military.