SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Harry Danos was still a teenager when he was drafted into the U.S. Marines during World War II.
“I was 19 when I landed on Iwo Jima and the youngest commissioned officer in my group,” Danos said. He was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. At 97 years old, he’s considered one of the oldest living survivors of the battle of Iwo Jima.
“The Japanese had all these fortifications and I used to run in their fortifications when they were bombing,” he said.
Danos is a friend of Westfield resident Ted Carellas, who also fought in World War II.
“We were called islanders so we would drop freights at different islands, in preparations for invasions of the islands,” Carellas said. “We didn’t know what we were conflicting with. We just went over we did our duty, no regrets.”
They were among this group of veterans applauded for their service at the Greek Cultural Center in Springfield on Sunday. The ceremony is in honor of Veterans Day. The national holiday will be celebrated on Thursday.
“I’m just really thankful of how many Americans support the veteran community, and try to make the veterans feel good and appreciate what they sacrificed,” Matthew Fortune a retired Sgt. Major in the U.S. Marines said.
“Every day is Veterans Day and we need to bring the memory to everybody. This country is free because somebody is protecting it,” Fr. Dionysios Koulianos the Cathedral Dean at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
“America is still the greatest nation in the world and is the nation of democracy, strength, and opportunity. Why? Because of our veterans,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said.
This includes State Senator John Velis, a U.S. Army Veteran who served on the frontlines in Afghanistan, with Veterans Day coming this week, this is what he’s thinking about.
“The lesson was clear. Everybody’s not coming home, so those of us who were fortunate to come home, who lost friends over there. The lesson is live a life honoring their sacrifice” Velis said.