Remembering the Battle of Iwo Jima

<p>Frank Beard</p>

Frank Beard

In his 88 years, Frank Beard carries more memories of terror, loss, and triumph than most will in their lives.

He spent most of his youth working with his father in Toppenish, but at age 17, he decided to join the navy and serve in World War II.

"Pearl Harbor was the thing that motivated me the most, because I didn't think they could win the war without me," said Beard.

Beard worked as a gunner's mate on several ships that fought across the Pacific islands, including Guam and eventually, Iwo Jima.

Beard watched as his comrades battled along the shorelines for weeks on end, until finally, he witnessed six soldiers raising the flag atop the island.

"It was a feeling of great happiness, because I knew that we were making progress," said Beard.

Beard goes on to describe how the iconic moment remains embedded in his mind, but not without images of thousands of soldiers who were killed in the moments leading up to it.

"It was the bloodiest place you ever saw," said Beard, "It was terrible [seeing all] Those marines dying."

Beard later suffered a hand injury during the war, sending him back home to Toppenish -- since then, he's served as the commander for the Yakima VFW and Department of Veteran Affairs.

But Beard says none of these accolades compare to the heroes he had to leave behind.

"I'm no hero," said Beard, "The heroes are all overseas, and they did not come home."