Tallahassee, FL - General Lawrence Snowden is the highest ranking survivor of the battle of Iwo Jima. An oil painting of the famous flag raising on the small Japanese island hangs in his living room. When the original picture first circulated in newspapers in 1945, the story was simple; US soldiers conquered the island. Marines stood and cheered. General Snowden remembers it differently.
“We were fighting like tigers against the well defended position of the Japanese and any man who stood up to cheer went down as a dead Marine,” said Snowden.
Snowden is 89. He’s a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. His life might have taken a different path, but as a senior at the University of Virginia, America was attacked.
“After the Pearl Harbor incident there wasn’t any question that I was going to go to war,” said Snowden.
Snowden says the country was more supportive back then. 16 million US citizens served. Women who stayed home built bombers and tanks. Families bought war bonds. Of the 16 million that fought, only two million remain.
And WWII Veterans are dying off at a rate of nearly 900 every day.”
Snowden’s not afraid of death. He’s stared it in the face most of his life. He says he gets news monthly of the passing of a vet he knew or fought with.
“No matter what you plan to do today and no matter what you plan to do tomorrow, you have the choice to do that. And why do you have that choice? You have it because veterans did what they did when they served I the armed forces,” said Snowden.
And as people celebrate Veteran’s Day, Snowden says don’t forget the troops fighting in two current US wars. He’s says they’re just as patriotic as WWII vets. Snowden is from Virginia but has lived in Tallahassee for the past 22 years. He still travels the country to talk about WWII, Iwo Jima, and the War on Terror.