Springfield Marine remembers Iwo Jima

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Most people couldn't tell you where they were 67 years ago, if they were even around. But former U.S. Marine Sgt. Robin Barrett can.

"This is where we hit the beach, right here," said Barrett at his home on Sunday as he pointed to a spot on a map of the island of Iwo Jima, where his division landed Feb. 19, 1945.

"I celebrated my 87th birthday today. Iwo Jima was my 20th birthday party," he said.

He said he remembers the first day of one of the fiercest battles of WWII.

"We were there for 28 days," said Barrett. "The campaign was supposed to last six or seven at best, and we lost a lot friends. We lost a lot of friends."

It's a battle remembered by a single photograph, now a memorial in Washington D.C.

"I watched the flag go up on the top of the mountain," said Barrett as he pointed to black and white photos. "When it was all over, I rolled over and talked to the old man upstairs."

But he said on that day, glory was the last thing on his mind.

"325 dead Japanese were piled up like cord wood," said Barrett. "That was our back defense wall. It was not pleasant, not pleasant at all."

Barrett said he was one of only eight in his mortar platoon that made it through the 35-day campaign.

"Plain, flat lucky is the only thing that you can say that I was," he said.

Now, Barrett said he just wants to remind the world of one simple truth.

"There's a great, old journalist who said war is hell," he said. "Well, war is hell. It isn't nice at all."