Grace Academy pays tribute to Iwo Jima WWII Veterans - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Grace Academy pays tribute to Iwo Jima WWII Veterans

Paul Shahen
Eyewitness News Reporter

Chattanooga, TN (WRCB) -- Students and teachers at Grace Academy welcomed two veterans into their community today. Both survived the battle at Iwo Jima, and shared their stories.

Today was a roller coaster ride of emotions for Americans and Veterans alike. Especially for the two that spoke at Grace Today.

"I'm here by the grace of God," said World War 2 Veteran William Allen.

Known as one of the bloodiest battles in WWII, Iwo Jima took more than 5,000 American lives.

Allen witnessed it all, he took the shore with the fifth assault wave, and he remembers it like it was yesterday. Still he can't believe he made it out alive.

Allen drove it home saying, "after four invasions in 12 months, we had 17,721 casualties."

By the grace of God he says.  Today Grace Academy honored Allen and a very modest Paul George who also fought at Iwo Jima.

"I'm a veteran and I was just doing a job," said George.

Both Allen and George witnessed the flag go up at Iwo Jima, that was day four of a fight that lasted the better part of a month.

Allen said, "when the flag went up everything ceased. The Japanese stopped shelling. We stopped firing. Everybody looked up there and we said yeah, but that didn't last for long."

As Allen held his picture of the raised flag signed by photographer Joe Rosenthal, he said no one realized how significant that photo would one day become.

We asked, "did you realize how big of a moment that would become?"

After a long pause, fighting back tears, Allen shook his head and said, "no way."


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