75 Years After Iwo Jima: Catholic War Hero Honored for Service

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By Tim Harfmann

Inside a U.S. Marine Corps post, a list of veterans from Staten Island who fought in the bloody battle of Iwo Jima can be found.  

Every name is marked with an asterisk, representing those who died during World War II or since.

All, except that of Nick Troianiello. 

The 93-year-old is the last surviving Marine from Staten Island who fought in the battle.

Troianiello was recognized Feb. 19  for his heroism 75 years ago.

“He’s just like a shining light because of what he did back in 1945,” explained Volker Heyde of U.S. Marine Corps Detachment #246. 

Troianiello entered the service as a private when he was 18, and found himself on the volcanic island in the Pacific.

“We weren’t even supposed to land on Iwo,”he explained. “The report was that it was going to be taken in three to five days. How mistaken they were!”

More than 6,000 Americans died in the vicious, month-long battle, and thousands more were injured. 

“One day you’re with your comrades, and the next thing you know a mortar comes down and knocks out God knows how many… and all you see is flesh and metal and stuff flying all over the place,” Troianiello recalled.

He suffered a gunshot to his right forearm and a wound to his eye. For his bravery, Troianiello earned the Purple Heart. 

He credits God with saving his life.

“There is a God,” he said. “I believe deeply. I pray for everybody every night and always… the guys that never come home.”

Seventy-five years later, Troianiello and others are remembering how all gave some, and some gave all.