At his home in the Baycliff section of Virginia Beach, Ed DeLong leafed through pages of the presentation he makes on the American flag.
"It's an emblem. It means freedom."
He was just fifteen years old when he enlisted in the Navy in 1943, lying about his age. And he was still fifteen years old when he hit the beach at Iwo Jima.
"A mortar fell, and everybody that was in that boat except the Marine machine gunner and myself were killed," said DeLong
Easter Sunday, 1945, Ed's unit landed at Okinawa.
"Okinawa was a snap there was nothing to it we landed we walked ashore we could have had a picnic there was no opposition whatsoever," continued DeLong.
He made chief onboard the USS Worcester and rose to LCDR by the time he retired as director of the missile school at Dam Neck in the sixties. And what’s this veteran's message for Veterans Day?
"The message for tomorrow is be thankful for what you've got in this country. Don't put it down. We make a lot of mistakes, but in the long run we do the right thing when we have to," said DeLong
In September, Ed and his wife Ruth celebrated 60 years of marriage. At 85, Ed DeLong is among the younger members of that greatest generation. He's still great.
"Every time you see that flag waving out there, salute it. I've got one out in front of the house. And I wear a flag pin on my lapel. (Have one) and wear it every chance you get."