98-year-old Longview man remembers Battle of Iwo Jima on Veterans Day

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 9:14 PM PST
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LONGVIEW Wash. (KPTV) - Lee Robinson was just 18 years old when he first signed up to be a member of the Marine Corps. He was living in Idaho when he came across a man in uniform on the street.

“A fellow in a blue uniform with a white cap stuck his head out the window and yelled ‘semper fidelis.’ I thought he said ‘75 dollars!’ Then I went in and signed up for the Marines,” Robinson said.

He trained in San Diego before being sent to the Pacific, where he had a close call with his squad of nine other men on the Island of Choiseul.

“We didn’t panic. Level-headed and we escaped and lived to fight again,” he said.

What he didn’t know at the time is he would fight again one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history as a rifleman in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Talking about it 77 years later still brings Robinson to tears.

“About four or five days out, they told us what our target was, I’m sorry,” Robinson said, holding back tears. “My squad of 11 men, I think there were, at that time. Two of us walked off the island under own power. Six were dead.”

Five days in there was a glimmer of hope, as five Marines and a Navy corpsman raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, famously captured by an Associated Press photographer.

“Yay! What a great thrill that was,” Robinson said.

On day 33, he was able to leave the island.

“Getting aboard the ship felt pretty good,” he said.

Robinson is now 98 years old, has seven kids and lots of grandkids. He turns 99 next February.