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Iwo Jima Survivors Speak to Fort Sill Marines

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FORT SILL Okla_ A few dozen Fort Sill Marines got a first-hand account of history today: the battle for Iwo Jima, one of the biggest of World War Two's campaign in the pacific.

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams talked to the newly-minted Marines about his time fighting the war and how much things have changed today.

Williams spoke Thursday as part of the 2013 Iwo Jima Reunion Tour. He said although the weapons and tactics have evolved over the years, the unique experience of war remains the same.

7News Reporter Nicole Osei talked with Iwo Jima survivors and learned about its impact on their lives. Over 6,000 Americans and 22,000 Japanese lost their lives defending what they held dear.

"It's hard to describe really," US Marine and Iwo Jima veteran James Krodell said. "We've seen death, you know. It's just unbearable."

These Sill Marines sat awestruck, listening to the war stories of veterans like Krodell and Hershel Williams. Williams came home wearing the highest honor given a service member: The Medal of Honor. He was a Corporal back then, and he said he always thinks about who he's wearing the medal for.

"I wear the medal particularly in honor of two marines that day who were protecting me so the Japanese couldn't get to me," Williams said. "Two of them gave their lives giving that protection. So, when I wear it, I always wear it in their honor, not mine."

Williams said after the war, it took him a while to get the courage to talk about his haunting memories of the battle. He said while he may not remember the names of some of his fallen comrades, he will never forget the sacrifice they made.

"One of the fellows that we lost on Iwo couldn't have been closer to me than if he were a brother," Williams said, "And either one of us would have given their life for the other. When I lost him that day, it was more emotional to me than when I lost my brothers."

The new Marines say the memories Williams and Krodell shared today taught them something they could never learn in a history book.

"It's pretty intense," Private First Class Bert Seville said. "It's just a physical reminder that that's what Marines were called to do at that point. It may be similar to what we're called to do in the future. Meeting someone that was actually there is kind of a special experience."

"It's a life experience for sure," Private First Class David Henry said. "My grandpa was actually a Marine at Iwo Jima, so I talked to him before. He kind of inspired me to become a Marine. It was a great experience to be here today to see another Marine from Iwo Jima."

Williams received his Medal of Honor in 1945 for repeatedly putting himself in the line of fire to kill the enemy.

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