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Iwo Jima battle survivor recounts the war

The name of the small island did not alarm Gene Christie.

He was one of 30,000 U.S. Marines going ashore in landing craft that morning 65 years ago during World War II.

Christie's world was Chicago, the Cubs and Georgia Burlingame, his Amundsen High School sweetheart waiting at home.

The island was Iwo Jima.

"I'd never heard of it," said Christie, 87. "It was my first action and thought we were walking into an easy operation. It had been bombarded for so long. The first couple of waves were hardly fired upon. Then the third wave, mine, hit the beach.

"The Japanese opened up with everything they could."

It was Feb. 19, 1945, a revered date in Marine Corps history.

"It seems like yesterday," said Christie, who was with the 5th Marine Division. "You could hardly move up the beach because it was full of black volcanic sand. Getting beyond that point, there was nothing but bullets, bombs and people falling all over the place.

"The word 'holocaust' is used a lot, but that's what Iwo was. A holocaust."

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