WJTV News Channel 12 - History lives at Armed Forces Museum in Largo

History lives at Armed Forces Museum in Largo

Posted: Updated:
WWII Iwo Jima veteran John Residence shares a moment with a young museum visitor on Memorial Day WWII Iwo Jima veteran John Residence shares a moment with a young museum visitor on Memorial Day
LARGO, FL (WFLA) -

Former Marine Corporal John Residence is 68 years removed from the Battle for Iwo Jima.

But he still remembers seeing the thunder of the 105 mm Howitzer he manned and the sight of a marine buddy at his side who was mortally wounded as the 5th Marine Division pounded Mt. Suribachi with cannon fire to quiet the Japanese defenders in the final months of the war. 

John Sweet was right next to me," Residence said. "He was turning white and dying right before my eyes."

Residence is one of the few living eyewitnesses to that epic battle, and the famous flag-raising memorialized in sculpture, photos and history books. He is also one of the "living" attractions at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo.

He was wounded from an explosion with blood seep from his ears, but kept fighting for 36 days straight. "I said as long as Marines are dying I'm gonna stay here and fight," said Residence.

The 87-year-old WWII veteran  is a regular at the Armed Forces History Museum at 2050 34th Way N. in Largo which hosted a Funfest on Memorial Day to remind the rest of us what this holiday is about.

Korean conflict POW survivor Bill Allen was also there, telling his story of capture and survival at the hands of Chinese and North Korean soldiers.

"We buried 1600 out of 3000 prisoners just that first winter alone," said Allen.

Allen said it took him 50 years to open a box full of mementos and start sharing the story of his combat and  two month frozen death march to a North Korean POW camp.

"I wrote later that I was walking into the jaws of Hell and the devil himself was waiting for me," said Allen.

Visitors to the museum can chat with Allen and Residence who are frequent volunteers.

Tyler Baldwin has never been to war--after all, he's only 8 years old. But he proudly wears his grandfather's Vietnam Service medal on his chest and is a weekly visitor to the museum.

He often chats with Allen and Residence and informs other visitors about the numerous war relics on display, ranging from authentic battle tanks and cannons to battleship models.

Baldwin also knows Memorial Day is supposed to mean more than just a day off of school or a fun day at the beach. "It means commemorating all the dead soldiers who did not make it," said Baldwin.

The Armed Forces History Museum is normally open every day except Monday until 4pm.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:28:18 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • MH370: Object found on coast not related to lost plane

    MH370: Object found on coast not related to lost plane

    Thursday, April 24 2014 12:38 AM EDT2014-04-24 04:38:37 GMT
    The object, found Wednesday, was described as a torn and misshapen piece of sheet metal with rivets, coated with fiberglass.
    The object, found Wednesday, was described as a torn and misshapen piece of sheet metal with rivets, coated with fiberglass.
  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:28:18 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Bollywood Oscars kickoff with huge party

    Bollywood Oscars kickoff with huge party

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:23:09 GMT
    IIFA star Anil Kapoor is surrounded by fans at the IIFA Stomp event at Tampa's Curtis Hixon ParkIIFA star Anil Kapoor is surrounded by fans at the IIFA Stomp event at Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park
    The International Indian Film Academy kicked off the countdown to its version of the Oscars with a music festival in downtown Tampa.
    The International Indian Film Academy kicked off the countdown to its version of the Oscars with a music festival in downtown Tampa.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:45:39 GMT
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:08:20 GMT
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
Powered by WorldNow

1820 TV Road
Jackson, MS 39204

Telephone: 601.372.6311
Fax: 804.819.5569
Email: wjtvnews@wjtv.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.