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Oldest known Iwo Jima survivor dies at 103 years old



John Moon

The oldest known survivor of the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II has died. John Moon was 103.

Moon graduated from Western Illinois University in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943, inspired by his football coach and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, reports the Marine Times.

The U.S. Marine Corps memorial outside of Washington, D.C. commemorates the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Photo by Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

He arrived on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, and was wounded in the infamous battle, which officially ended more than a month later, on March 26, 1945. Of the more than 100,000 U.S. troops committed to take the island, more than a quarter (26,040) ended up as casualties including 6,821 dead. The Japanese force of about 21,000 was decimated, with around 18,000 dead and missing. About 3,000 Japanese went into hiding and continued to fight for weeks.

After the war, Moon returned to his hometown of Macomb in Illinois where he ran a café and candy store. He served several terms as an alderman in Macomb, where he also taught driver’s education, sold insurance and sang in the church choir.

He died Tuesday, Oct. 29. His wife, Beatrice, passed away in 1998. Moon’s nine siblings also preceded him in death. He is survived by two children, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

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