If Navy veteran Claude Wallace had his way, he'd probably still be fighting for God, Country and Family.
The Cleveland sailor was honorably discharged after fighting in both World War Two and the Korean War.
He left with 80 percent disability...and a head full of memories.
News 12's Nordia Epps has his story.
Claude Wallace, Navy Veteran, "When I went into Pearl Harbor, I couldn't believe what I'd seen."
From Pearl Harbor ... to Iwo Jima ... and even Leyte...Starting at 16 years old...Navy Veteran Claude Wallace saw combat in some of the biggest battles of World War Two. And decades later he still gets emotional when he looks back.
Wallace, "The boys fought a hard battle there."
Wallace told a crowd at the VFW in Cleveland about his experiences... on the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
His primary duty on the war front...putting men and equipment on the beaches.
Wallace, "To go into to the beach you had to really watch or you'd run over a body because there was several bodies floating around in the water out there, some on their backs, some on their stomachs and everything. The water was just blood red."
Wallace arrived at Pearl Harbor December 15th 1941...just 8 days after the deadly attack...delivering battle ready marines.
But he was there for Iwo Jima.
That's where the gunner suffered a life-changing wound.
Wallace, "I was up on the bow of the ship with a Thompson machine gun. There was 4 more guys. We were shooting and returning fire so that Marines could get their stuff of the ship to go off the tank. All at once, boy, something hit me like you hit me with a sledge hammer. Knocked me about 4 foot."
He almost lost his leg...and it still bothers him today...but the Cleveland sailor considers himself lucky.
That day, 23 men on his ship paid the ultimate price.
And nearly seven thousand U.S. troops gave their lives in that month-long battle.
He still carries the memories of lost comrades.
Wallace, "Something must have hit him in the face some kind of fire, I don't know what because it blowed the whole back of his head off and he just fell in the water."
Wallace survived World War two... and saw more combat in the Korean War... before being honorably discharged in 1954 as a disabled veteran.
Wallace "I would've still stayed if he let me. I love the Navy. The Navy was good to me."
Many medals mark his years of service...including a Purple Heart.
Now we add one more salute.
In Cleveland Nordia Epps WDEF News 12.