WWII vet remembers battles in the Pacific
n Recently completes Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to tour war memorials
For most people, Memorial Day means a three-day weekend, a chance to get out of town and, hopefully, enjoy good weather.
But for former U.S. Marine Hal Lowry, who fought in the Pacific during World War II, its a time to remember.
He recently completed an Honor Flight, a tour of Washington D.C. war memorials organized by the nonprofit Honor Flight Network. He traveled with other veterans from Oregon and, though he only knew a handful of them before the trip, that didnt matter. They shared a common story.
It was easy to talk with them, he said. Theyd gone through their stages of life in the war.
Lowry was 17 years old when he signed up with the U.S. Marines and was assigned to the Fourth Division.
His father, who served in the Navy, had approached a chaplain when Lowry was 14 and asked, gesturing to Lowry, Can I get him in the Navy?
We dont have room for a 14-year-old, the chaplain replied. Wait until hes 15 or 16.
This delay suited Lowry who wanted to be a Marine. He joined up, at the legal age, three years later.
World War II had a huge impact on his family. Lowry was in the Marines, his father was in the Navy and Lowrys older brother was in the Army. His brother traveled overseas to Europe as a paratrooper and he was later killed in the Battle of the Bulge, generally considered to be one of the bloodiest World War II battles fought by U.S. forces, just before Gen. George Patton arrived with backup.
If hed only been a day earlier, my brother might have been alive, Lowry said.
Lowry was awarded both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star during his time with the Marines where he was primarily involved in reconnaissance assignments.
On the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, he stayed with a wounded buddy for several long hours, unable to retreat. The Japanese troops showered them with mortar rounds.
Every time I yelled [for help], the Japanese would open up with the mortars, Lowry said. They could see us, but they couldnt actually kill me.
After four to five hours, Lowry took his chance.
I figured wed better get out of there or wed be bayonet or machete meat, he said. He carried his friend back to a secure place where he could get medical attention and then went back to the line.
Much later, after the fighting at Iwo Jima was over, Lowry ran into the man again. He had made it through his injuries, which included a wound where a bullet has passed through under one arm and exited under the other.
I was so glad to see him, Lowry said.
These days, though, Lowry doesnt see many fellow World War II veterans. When he lived in California, he tried to organize a Marine group, but without much success.
Its tough, he said. The guys are getting older and the nights are darker.Add a comment