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Marine WWII veteran honored to raise flag on new pole

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-27 23:12:38-04

“Old glory” proudly flies over a Portland retirement home thanks to a brand new flagpole.

That pole was recently donated to The Pavilion Assisted Living Center by Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, the firm building the Exxon/Mobil-Sabic plastics plant.

Last week, The Pavilion dedicated that flagpole, with U.S. Marine Corps veteran Chester Brittain raising that flag.

The 94-year-old served in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the Pacific theater.  This Memorial Day,  Brittain remembered the men who never made it home.

“It’s a day for all of us to remember the sacrifices that so made of us did, so many before us,” said Brittain.

Brittain’s service started mere months after graduating high school.

“I graduated from High School in Taft when I was 18 years old, then I was drafted in September of ’43.

After training in California, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, Brittain was sent to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where he trained for the invasion of Okinawa.

“I was on an LST troop ship for 31 days,” said Brittain.  “We landed on Okinawa on April Fools Day, Easter Sunday 1945.”

More than 14,000 American Soldiers and Marines lost their lives on Okinawa.  Tens of thousands more were wounded, including Brittain.  As Brittain recently raised the first flag on the new flagpole at The Pavilion, his thoughts turned to the men who never made it back, and those who did.

“I honored all my fellow comrades that we lost in battle and that are still survivors,” said Brittain.

Brittain says being asked to raise that flag last week was a tremendous honor, one he’ll cherish the rest of his life.

Brittain was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered during a Japanese bombing raid in June of 1945.