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Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima

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    Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima - Amelia Kunhardt/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Bill Gardner, 90, who served as a Navy signalman aboard the USS Izard during World War II, recalls the Battle of Iwo Jima, which was fought 70 years ago this month and claimed 7,000 American lives. “I don’t know why I’m here,” Gardner says. “Only God knows why.”

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    Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima - | of | Share this photo

    After training to become a Navy signalman, Bill Gardner joined the crew of the USS Izard at the age of 19 in August 1943. “It was nothing to admit you were scared,” Gardner recalls. “We all were.”

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    Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima - Courtesy Bill Gardner | of | Share this photo

    Gardner, center, poses with his sisters Rose and Gertrude during World War II. A Portland native, Gardner volunteered for the Navy right after graduating from high school in June 1942.

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    Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima - | of | Share this photo

    The iconic image by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal depicting America’s indomitability during the five-week battle for the Pacific island.

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    Portland native Bill Gardner recalls the battle for Iwo Jima - Photos by Amelia Kunhardt/Staff Photographer | of | Share this photo

    Bill Gardner holds a cap with the insignia of the USS Izard, the destroyer he served on during World War II. Joe Butler of Hampton, N.H., a former shipmate and Gardner’s lifelong friend, described it as “the luckiest ship in the world.”

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