John Liggett was just a baby when Veterans Day was celebrated for the first time in the United States, 100 years ago today on Nov. 11, 1919. Later, he would play a part in one of the most famous battles of World War II.
Now, at the age of 100, Liggett recently reflected on his long life.
Except for the time he spent in World War II, Liggett has lived nearly his entire life in the town where he was born--- Roundup, Mont.
“It’s just an ordinary town, a small town, but I’ve always liked it here. And I expect I will probably die here, but there is no hurry,” Liggett joked.
Liggett admits that his memory sometimes flies away at his age but talked about what it was like being in the Pacific theater with the world at war in February and March of 1945.
“All we knew at that time is that we were on Iwo Jima, and we didn’t know what we were doing there. Of course, we weren’t that high in the echelon to know what was going on. But we had good troops and good men in our company. A lot of them didn’t come back alive,” Liggett said.
An estimated 25,000 Japanese and Americans lost their lives in the five weeks of bloody fighting before American troops raised the U.S. flag over the island—captured in one of the most iconic photographs of World War II.
“To be on Iwo Jima- that gives me chills just to think about because that was serious combat there,” says John’s son David, who served in the Navy. He says his father was determined to enlist and defend his country after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
“Initially he was turned down because of his eyes and he didn’t give up. He kept trying because he had that drive, that devotion to serve the country and give something back. He has always been very patriotic—somebody who gives back to both the community and the country," David said.
After the war and a brief stint in college, John returned to the place where he was born, raised a family, and was married to his wife nearly 70 years before she passed away. John has been a familiar face around town-- someone who his son says has always tried to support other veterans.
“He was always really proud of that service—and always has been. I remember as a kid, every year he would go to his army outfit reunion and I also remember many times people that served under him would reach out when they needed help in life and he was always willing to help them through a tough spot and that is the way he treated everybody… especially me,” David said.
When asked about the secret to his longevity, John joked that it is “staying away from doctors.” He says that he has been blessed with good health in his lifetime. But when it comes to what he is most of proud of, John says that would be his service in the military.
And for that, we say thank you to John and everyone who has served our country.