Iwo Jima veteran celebrates 96th birthday

Local News

One Iwo Jima veteran celebrates his 96th birthday today. He is one of the longest living survivors of that historic World War II battles.

We were able to attend his birthday in North East.

Richard Donnelly celebrated his 96th birthday in North East with friends and family sharing stories about what it was like to be a marine during the battle of Iwo Jima.

96-year-old Richard Donnelly said that this is a milestone he never thought he would reach.

“It sure feels great that I’m 96. I never thought I would make it to 16,” said Richard Donnelly, Iwo Jima Veteran.

Donnelly explains that he joined the marines in the 1940’s when he was a teenager. Donnelly said in February of 1945 he fought as a Private First Class Marine in a pretty famous battle.

“I’m so proud that I took part in it, but when it was happening I was in a fox hole and I was digging that fox hole deeper,” said Donnelly.

He remembers and keeps love letters from that time period. One being sent to Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945 the day the American flag raising took place.

Donnelly said at the time he did not realize the significance of the battle, but he is proud to be part of American history.

Donnelly’s children said that they are not only proud of his service, but also his dedication to being a parent.

“We won the lottery when it comes to dads,” said Patricia Klenik, Daughter.

“We’re just lucky and we know it and we just hope we keep going on these birthdays,” said Rebecca Donnelly Keeler, Daughter.

One of Donnelly’s daughters said his memories of Iwo Jima have been passed down to his grandchildren Brin Donnelly Barhart.

“My children have heard the stories. He went hunting with my older son and shared an awful lot together,” said

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