Crowds gathered for a Veterans Day ceremony at the World War 2 memorial Friday. Among them was Ellis Poole, a WW II veteran himself.
"Being in those islands and those jungles it was very, very hard," the 87-year-old veteran said.
Poole returned to his home in Southeast D.C. after the ceremony, where he shared his memories with his wife and grandson.
He was a sergeant, head of a machine gun unit in a segregated army on Okinawa. Among those massing to invade the Japanese mainland when the U.S. bombed Hiroshima.
"We were prepared to go but thanks to the good Lord and Harry Truman, they dropped the atom bomb and saved our lives so we could be back there,” Poole said.
He kept a lot of things, his meal ticket on the troop transport, the letter about Japan's surrender, President Truman's thank you to the troops. Pictures of him and to his girlfriend Carolyn, now his wife of 64 years. She remembers those days stateside.
“All the men were gone it was lonesome, Friday night was terrible," she said.
She kept the telegram when he told her he'd made it back to U.S. soil. The memorabilia mean a lot to 29-year-old Jason who looks a lot like his grandfather used to.
"He's a hero to me," he said.
"65 years ago, I was in the jungle,” Poole said. “Today I'm looking at the memorial for us…. and I think about the men, a lot of men didn't make it back here."