Sunday marks the 69th anniversary of the American victory at Iwo Jima.
Veterans said this anniversary is extra special because it falls on a Sunday, the same day of the week as the victory nearly seven decades ago.
Troy Bowling was 19-years-old when his unit was among the first wave on the beaches of Iwo Jima.
“That whole island was zeroed in, every inch of it was zeroed in by Japanese fire,” said Bowling. “They let loose with everything they had and cut us down like a mow machine cutting hay.”
Bowling said he was knocked unconscious the first day of battle.When he came to, his company had already moved on and he had to join another outfit.
The second day of battle he was shot in the chest and leg. He lost so much blood he was reported killed in action.
“I lay on the black sands of Iwo Jima bleeding to death and I looked God straight in the eye. I said if you get me off here alive I’ll serve man kind the rest of my life,” said Bowling.
Bowling said he gathered enough strength to wave his hand. A combat photographer found him and called for a medic.
While being treated on a ship he said he heard cheering outside.
“Everybody was hollering and carrying on and whistles were blowing and the ship steam whistles were going off and I asked the Chaplin what was going on,” said Bowling.
He asked the Chaplain to take him up to see and he was taken above deck on a stretcher to see the American flag being raised on Mt. Suribachi.
“I said well, we're going to take that island now,” said Bowling.
He still has a bullet in his back but the memories of war are what he said hurt most.
“I'll never get over it as long as I live,” said Bowling.
A Purple Heart recipient and one of the most humble men you may ever meet but this veteran doesn’t call himself a hero.
“In my book the only heroes are those who were left behind who didn't get home,” said Bowling.
Bowling has kept his promise to serve, the one he made while laying on the beach.
Over the last 69 years, he has volunteered more than 73,000 hours.
All he asks, in return is that people remember those who fought for our freedom.