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WWII Veteran, Witness to History

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. -- A former Marine in Lycoming County is sharing memories of his time in the Corps.

Mehendelssohn Hoxie, better known as Mendy, is originally from the Syracuse, New York area but has called Jersey Shore home for 50 fifty years. At 97 years old, he's still sharp as a tack and remembers February 23, 1945, like it was yesterday.

"These five men said, 'let's raise the flag just to taunt the Japs,'" he recalled.

Mendy Hoxie was just 22 years old when he witnessed one of the most iconic moments of the Second World War

It's the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima. The flag was raised before the island was captured by American forces to raise the spirits of the troops.

"It was a morale booster for sure. Who organized it, I don't know? I think it was just five guys who got together. We're all very proud of our flag and they raised that flag and that cameraman became famous because of it, he got the picture!" Hoxie said.

Hoxie says he was about 200 away when those Marines raised the flag on Mount Suribachi and remembers the feeling of standing on that island in that moment.

"We heard all these shells go over. You can hear the shells go over. It sounds like a railroad train and we kept hearing these go over our head."

It was a story he didn't even share with his family until decades later.

"I really didn't know anything about it until I was homeschooling my kids and we were studying that period of history, so I asked Dad to start telling the kids what he remembered about that time, and that's when I found out he had been on Iwo Jima and he started talking about the raising of the flag and we were like, 'What! how come we never knew this?'" said his daughter Anne Bittner.

Despite his service to our country, Hoxie doesn't like to be referred to as a hero.

"The people who really did something, went in and dragged out an injured soldier under fire, that's a hero," said Hoxie.

But his daughters believe otherwise.

"We're all proud of him, you know? He'll tell you he's not a hero, but I feel like anybody that's given up their lives to go and serve that way and put themselves in that potential danger comes back a hero," Bittner said.

Hoxie says he doesn't think of his service to our country every day. He's busy spending time reading, spending time with his family, and walking the yard to check on his junipers, but he says he is still proud to be a Marine.

"A proud Marine, I'm proud to be in the service like that, and I've always had that feeling in my gut. I'm proud I was a Marine."

Mendy Hoxie lives at home with his wife of 72 years, Pauline and she says she is so proud of her husband's service to our country.

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