WWII Memories Never Forgotten By Veteran

By Matt Porter

December 7, 2012 Updated Dec 7, 2012 at 8:09 PM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) With his 70-year-old green, woolen uniform clean and pressed under plastic wrap, 87-year-old John Czuhanich's memories are still as vivid as the color in his uniform.

Czuhanich enlisted just one year after Pearl Harbor's bombing.

17-years-old and 120 pounds, he wasn't much.

"I was underweight, they told me they'd put the weight on me before the end of boot camp," Czuhanich said, "They never did, but they never kicked me out either."

His biggest fight came at an island in the Pacific called Saipan. He was part of a 70,000 man invasion force.

"They knocked a lot of our landing boats before they got in," he said, "We were lucky to make it through the barrage."

Czuhanich described Japanese planes blowing away the slow moving landing boats.

"I was on the right boat," he said, "A lot of guys didn't make it in."

In the 30 day battle, Czuhanich saw more than he would of liked.

"We found one of our runners that was tortured. He was tied against a tree and screamed all night. We could hear him screaming," he recounted.

But luck was with the Endicott native, he was recalled from the front lines days before the Japanese made one last suicide rush.

"When we got there, the bodies were all the way from the front line all the way to the ocean," he said.

Since, Czuhanich has been helping with military funerals. More than 3,000 in all.

"It's a sad feeling, they all are," he said, "Everyone of the funerals, but just as they are, they deserve it."

An average 600 World War II veterans die each day according to the US Veteran's Administration.

By 2035, estimates project that there will be no living World War II vets to tell their story.