• Honoring Stephen J. Szopo

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  • Steve Szopo volunteered and was inducted into the Marine Corps in October 1943. He was one of ten volunteers selected from a large group in downtown Detroit. After completing recruit training in San Diego, he was assigned to the Fifth Marine Division and trained in California and later in Hawaii with anti-tank weapons. In early 1945, his unit was given one day of liberty in Honolulu before departure for an unknown destination in the Pacific. On February 19, 1945, Steve's unit landed on Iwo Jima "Red Beach One" with the fourth wave. On the third day of battle, Steve witnessed the two flag raisings on Mt. Suribachi by the 28th Marines.

    On March 11th, Steve received multiple wounds. Apparently lifeless, he was pronounced dead and given last rites by the chaplain and placed among the dead. Later, a passing Marine noticed Steve's arm move and discovered he was still alive. He awoke in a hospital where he vividly recalled seeing wounded Marines in much worse conditions than he. After 17 months treatment and rehabilitation in Navy hospitals, he was discharged in 1946, receiving the Purple Heart of Honor.

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