Cruce Lansford is a WWII veteran of the Navy and was on a ship off the coast of Iwo Jima during the battle.

Lansford joined the Navy in 1944 when he was 17. 

“The things I got into and the things I did, it’s only by the grace of God that I made it. Cause I didn’t have sense enough to take care of myself,” said Lansford.

He was assigned to the USS Harry Lee, a troop ship which carried Marines to training exercises in the Caribbean, and then to operation in the Pacific. During that time, he crossed the International Dateline 3 or 4 times and the Equator 8 times.

“When you cross the Equator, they give you a certificate and an initiation. You go from polliwog to a shellback,” he said.

The proudest moments for the Harry Lee were during the five-week battle for the island of Iwo Jima.

Its mission was to carry wounded Marines to hospitals around the Pacific, and that work was Cruce Lansford’s most significant memory too.

“I always remember Iwo Jima, and the price that was paid,” he said.