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Historical

Hardcore WWII Marine: We Were All Scared

World War II veteran, 91-year-old Francis O'Brien, father of 14 children and Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, talks about what it was like saving the lives of his fellow marines and the fear they all felt.

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"I didn't see John Wayne out there at all, he can do all he wants in the movie Iwo Jima, but hey baby, when you're there, you're scared."

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Photo Credits : (GettyImages)
Keystone Hulton Archive Kena Betancur Dan Kitwood
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

On 22 June, 1944, Corporal O'Brien carried a wounded marine on his back for some 200 yards under hostile machine gun and mortar fire, when his platoon dropped back to a defensive line for the night. On 28 June 1944, he carried a wounded marine from a position exposed to hostile machine gun and mortar fire, some 200 yards to an area where he could be evacuated. His heroic actions were a source of inspiration to those about him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. - And you know, and to be perfectly honest with you, you're scared and you want to get the hell out of there and you'd pick up the Empire State building, if you had to. - But it says the rest of your guys in that first one on the 22nd, that the rest of your platoon had dropped back to a defensive line for the night and you're running back out there where they are firing at you to try and rescue somebody. - I mean you know and you don't know how you do it, you have no idea and if you saw a movie of it you wouldn't believe it but you're scared. I mean everybody is scared. I didn't see John Wayne out there at all, he can do all he wants in the movie Iwo Jima, but hey baby, when you're there, you're scared. I guess I was scared.