The Wakefield Rotary Club celebrated Memorial Day a little early this year by welcoming local WWII veterans Larry Kirby and Morley Piper to the club. Mr. Kirby was the featured speaker for the day as the club honored all members who have served in the military as well as the Peace Corps. Author of Stories from the Pacific – The Island War 1942-1945, former Marine Kirby recalled his time serving on Iwo Jima during the battle for Guam. Veteran and Rotary member Mark Curley noted, “Admiral Chester Nimitz, (the last 5 Star Admiral) was Commander in Chief of all the Pacific Forces in WWII.  After Iwo Jima, Nimitz said, ‘Uncommon valor was a common virtue on Iwo Jima.’ We can all attest to that after having the opportunity to see and hear Larry Kirby share some of what he went through.”

In fact, Mr. Kirby told some stories at the Rotary meeting that he has never shared with anyone. Curley added “I thanked him for being so brave to go to those dark places in the recess of his mind and share them with our Rotary Club members. I could tell it was not easy for him at times. I think many of us had a lump in our throat. He was so, powerful, open, honest, moving and human. We witnessed history today.” US Army National Guard veteran Tom Stapleton was also on hand to film the presentation on behalf of WCAT. “As the person filming, we’re supposed to focus on the subject. I really struggled holding back my own emotions as Mr. Kirby spoke.” Stapleton added, “It was important for me to get his presentation on film. His story is part of history and it’s incredibly important that we not forget what veterans went through, and are still going through, to keep us safe and free.”

Mr. Kirby concluded his presentation by noting that he was glad we were interested in this phase of the war. “I’m sharing my stories so we don’t forget what our troops went through.” Curley confirmed, “Those who were there today (at the meeting) will never forget.”

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WWII veteran Larry Kirby spoke at the Club's Memorial Day luncheon about his experiences on Iwo Jima.

WWII veteran Larry Kirby spoke at the Club’s Memorial Day luncheon about his experiences on Iwo Jima.