He proudly served his country as a Marine, never seeking recognition for putting his life in danger during some of the hardest-fought battles of World War II.

Ray Maiorino, a longtime Falmouth resident, died in Portland on Thanksgiving Day.

A member of what journalist Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation,” he was 89.

“He never expected he’d ever get back (to the United States),” said one of his two sons, Pat Maiorino of Falmouth.

Mr. Maiorino was born in New York City, the son of Pasquale and Anna Maiorino. After graduating from high school in 1940, he joined the Marines. He enlisted for four years, but later re-enlisted for two years.

His Marine detachment was assigned to the USS North Carolina, the first battleship of its kind built for World War II. The vessel came to Portland to conduct sea trials off the coast. “They kept firing broadsides to see if the ship would hold together,” his son said.

It was during the USS North Carolina’s stay in Maine that Mr. Maiorino met his first wife, Lucy Quattrucci, at a USO dance.

His son said that meeting was what brought his father back to Maine after the war. They were married and had two sons, Pat and Frank, who lives in Windham.

The USS North Carolina was assigned to the South Pacific to support forces landing on Guadalcanal. The ship also saw action in the Battle of the Coral Sea, where both Japanese and U.S. forces suffered heavy losses. Marines manned some of the vessel’s small guns, his son said.

The USS North Carolina was torpedoed during the Battle of the Coral Sea and took on water, forcing it to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

In Hawaii, Mr. Maiorino was assigned to a new Marine fighting force, the First Provisional Rocket Detachment.

“The Marines called them the ‘Buck Rogers Boys’ because of the rockets they were using,” his son said.

Mr. Maiorino, who became a platoon leader, and his fellow Marines supported ground forces on the volcanic islands of the South Pacific during some of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The most famous was on Iwo Jima.

“Flags of Our Fathers,” a 2006 movie directed by Clint Eastwood, conveyed the scope of death and destruction on Iwo Jima. Of the more than 18,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, only 216 were taken captive.

“The Japanese wouldn’t surrender. They’d rather kill themselves than be captured,” Mr. Maiorino’s son said.

“They went there expecting to stay seven or 10 days, but ended up spending 30 days,” he said. “It was the deadliest battle of the South Pacific.”

After surviving Iwo Jima, Mr. Maiorino’s unit was told that it would be part of the American invasion of mainland Japan. “They were estimating that American casualties would reach 1 million dead or wounded,” his son said.

The invasion never took place because the United States ended the war by dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the war ended, Mr. Maiorino re-enlisted for two years.

“He had a real sense of duty,” his son said. “He was proud to be a Marine. It was a good part of his life.”

Later in life, he received three Presidential Citations and the Victory Medal for meritorious service.

Five years ago, his son took him to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He wore his Iwo Jima survivor’s cap.

“The Marines on duty stood and saluted my father as he walked by. That was pretty inspiring,” his son said.

About three years ago, Mr. Maiorino was interviewed for the Veterans History Project, a program of the Library of Congress that includes firsthand accounts of veterans’ experiences during the country’s major wars.

His son sat in during the interview, which took place at his father’s home in Falmouth.

“My dad was a great man, a really wonderful guy. They did so much and asked for so little,” his son said of those who fought in World War II.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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