By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – The Battle of Iwo Jima was the scene of some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of World War II. Tuesday, the sacrifices of thousands of Marines were remembered at the State House.

The guests of honor were four local men who fought in the battle, now, in their 90s. In February of 1945 they were barely in their 20s, sent to invade the island of Iwo Jima that was defended by Japanese soldiers who were ready for them.

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The Battle of Iwo Jima is remembered at the State House. (WBZ-TV News)

“The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest in our nation’s history.  And after 36 days of hell, nearly 7,000 Americans were killed and another 26,000 were wounded,” John MacGillivray, one of the organizers of the commemoration said.

It took five weeks of brutal fighting for the Marines to take the tiny island. The Japanese fought from a network of caves and tunnels.

Walter O’Malley, from Clinton, was in the 5th Marine Division.

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Walter O’Malley, speaks at State House. (WBZ-TV News)

“We had 50 in our platoon. There were only four that didn’t get hit, killed or wounded,” O’Malley said.

Larry Kirby, from Brookline, was a 20-year-old platoon sergeant.

“It means a lot. The fact that the men who died, the young boys who died and were wounded on Iwo Jima are still being remembered,” he said.

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It is said that among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.

Paula Ebben