Home of the brave: MMA’s Iwo Jima Parade honors World War II veterans

HARLINGEN — Ten World War II veterans — six of them veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima — were honored here yesterday.

The cadets of Marine Military Academy held their annual Iwo Jima Parade in the shadow of the historic Iwo Jima Monument.

This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the Pacific Theater Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

The event was a tribute to the courage and sacrifice made by The Greatest Generation to preserve freedom around the world. Because of the subtropical climate of South Texas, MMA is the only organization in the country that holds a battalion-size parade on the actual anniversary — Feb. 19, 1945 — of the battle.

Last year, 13 World War II veterans attended the event, six of which were Iwo Jima survivors — and nearly 400 people filled the parade stands.

The event had special reserved seating for the survivors in front of the parade stand. During the parade, the Iwo Jima survivors were joined by the MMA superintendent for the ceremonial pass in review.

After the parade, event-goers were encouraged to view the Iwo Jima Monument and the gravesite of Cpl. Harlon Block, the Weslaco native who was one of the U.S. Marines who raised the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima, and stop by the Iwo Jima Museum & Gift Shop to watch the Battle of Iwo Jima video.

Since April 1982, MMA has been home to the Iwo Jima Monument. The magnificent statue depicts six Marines raising the American flag on Feb. 23, 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Marine depicted at the base of the flagstaff is Harlon Block.