Aboard the Iwo Jima, hero recalls epic battle

Sixty-six years ago Wednesday, Hershel "Woody" Williams was face down in the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima when he heard the cheers.

He and thousands of other Marines and Navy corpsmen were trying to break through Japanese defenses on the South Pacific island during what became one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

"The Marines around me started yelling and screaming and firing their weapons in the air and jumping up and down," Williams recalled. "I really couldn't figure out what was going on."

He lifted his head slightly, his eyes following his comrades' gaze upward to Mount Suribachi.

"There was Old Glory flying," he said. He raised his M 1 rifle and started shooting into the air.

The flag-raising and its iconic photograph, published later in American newspapers, lifted the country's spirits and later was memorialized with a large statue adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery....

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