The month-long battle for the island of Iwo Jima changed one marine’s life forever. Ralph Griffiths , a member of 2nd Platoon Easy Company 28th Regiment, is finally living out his dreams after sacrificing so much for love of country.
“The battle was ferocious you know, it was a terrible battle,” said Griffiths. “A lot of casualties.”
His 52-year-old son Ralph Griffiths Junior — who served more than 20 years in the Navy — says he’s proud of his father’s accomplishments. “Oh it’s an amazing story what those men did,’ said Griffiths jr. “They were actually not men. They were boys. He was 17years old.”
The Iwo Jima survivor says a 40 man patrol was sent up the Japanese mountain in 1945 while he and 19 other men circled around.
“I was wounded the first of March by a shell, flag bearers, Mike Strank and Harlon Blocok, one was on one side of me and the other on the other side and we touched elbows when a shell landed in front of us and the shell instantly killed both men and it wounded me,” recalled Griffiths.
The 86-year-old from Ohio still chokes up when he recalls the loss of his best friend. “I don’t really talk too much about it but you have to occasionally.” said the veteran.
And occasionally, he talked about his life–long dream of visiting Mount Rushmore; a dream no more. “It’s symbolic it’s something that you would like to see and 70% of Americans would never see it,” said Griffiths. But even fewer can say they’ve been to a bloody war in the Pacific and made it back to share their story.
Griffiths will be honored in a parade at 1:00 p.m., Saturday in Box Elder. He’ll also speak and sign autographs at a luncheon at City Hall. That event begins at 3:00 p.m., and costs $10.