- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - In a story March 8 about an Iowa World War II veteran returning to the Pacific island where he fought, The Associated Press misspelled the island’s name in a headline. It’s Iwo Jima, not Iowa Jima.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Iowa WWII veteran prepares to return to Iwo Jima

Iowa veteran, 90, who fought on Iwo Jima during World War II will return to island this month

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A 90-year-old Iowa veteran will soon have the chance to return to the volcanic beaches of Iwo Jima where he fought with the Marines during World War II.

Frank Pontisso will be part of a group of veterans returning to the tiny Pacific island, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1HibnYp). He departs Tuesday.

“I want to go to particular areas of the island, especially one where I saw a friend of mine from Minnesota get blown out of the side of a hill,” said Pontisso, who is a retired auto parts salesman. “If that ravine’s still there, I’ll find it.”

Pontisso said he witnessed the historic flag raising on the island that became one of the war’s most iconic images. He also lost the lower part of his right arm to a mortar blast.

Pontisso enlisted in the Marines in 1942 and went through boot camp in March 1943. He wound up on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945.

“There was not a shred of green,” Pontisso said of the island.

Pontisso endured the fighting on the island for 12 days before being wounded by a mortar. After that battle, he was transported to a hospital ship and then a hospital in Guam.

Doctors were forced to amputate much of his right arm after an infection set in.

Pontisso received a Purple Heart for his injury in battle, but he always downplayed his role in the battle. His oldest daughter, Debra, told the newspaper she didn’t realize what her father had gone through until she was older.

“I remember looking in the closet, finding this old tattered shoebox with a Purple Heart thrown in it along with some other stuff,” she said.

Pontisso maintains a tradition of calling his fellow Marines who served on Iwo Jima around Christmas each year to celebrate being one of the lucky survivors.

“I got a roster that I keep calling,” said Pontisso, whose list includes about 20 people these days.

Pontisso’s trip is being paid for by the Greatest Generations Foundation, which has raised money for similar veterans’ trips. He had to apply to be included.

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