Lehigh Valley

A Marine dreams of Iwo Jima

MACUNGIE, Pa. - To see the world through Edwin Hunsberger's eyes, is to see what the world has only seen in a photograph.

"I was right there...right there at the bottom of Mount Suribachi," Ed begins.

Ed was born on the 4th of July in Walnutport, Pennsylvania.

A year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, at 17, he volunteered to fight.

The new Marine was stationed in Guam, and just a few months later, found himself on the shores of Iwo Jima, diving into foxholes to escape Japanese gunfire.

"The fighting didn't stop," Ed says. "You didn't go to lunch or dinner or anything else. It just kept going."

The Japanese were firing down from the shelter of caves. Ed remembers dodging bullets, while his buddy loaded a bazooka.

"He put the rocket in, I fired the rocket. It went about 250 feet up, right into the cave," he uses his hands to show an explosion. "That was the end of them Japanese," he says.

The losses for both sides were tremendous. 7-thousand Marines died in that one battle.

We've seen them, in black-and-white photographs in the history books. Ed saw them in color in life...and death.

"He was one of my friends," he says, pointing to a fallen Marine in a book sitting on his table.

"I was right there, when he..." Ed pauses…."Was dead."

Ed slowly tells us, "Most people say God was with me. I don't know how I did it. I should've been killed, yes, or wounded yes, but…I wasn't."

He shrugs his shoulders weakly, as if he's asked himself that question many times before.

But Ed was still standing, when he watched a group of Marines make it to the top of Mount Suribachi, and plant an American flag, but the first one, they felt, was too small to be seen from a distance.

"So they sent a runner down to the beach," Ed says. He's looking into the distance a bit, remembering. "And they got a larger flag - which is the monument, which you all see today," he says.

Looking around his house, we see several. A lamp, a statue, pictures.

The image of sacrifice and hope. The pride of the Greatest Generation. It's in museums, at national memorials…and in Eddie's house...only, he knew some of those men raising that flag.

Did he ever have any idea that image would become iconic? "No, No. I saw it and it made all of us feel very, very good that it went up because they got to the top, which we all helped them to get there, but I never thought it would turn out like it did," he says.

In his own way, Ed helped raise the flag that day...then came home and lived a full, long life.

72 years after leaving the beach that day in Iwo Jima, all that's left, is to go back.

Ed's family and friends are asking for help, to send him back to that beach, so he can look up at that mountain one more time.

"It'll give goosebumps comin' up and down my spine. I'm sure I'm going to remember some of it," he pauses.

"Maybe all of it."

Maybe that one big page in history he helped write, will give him the chance to close the final chapter.

If you would like to help Eddie return to Iwo Jima, visit his family and friends' GoFundMe page they have set up for him:

For more information about Eddie, visit:

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