One special World War II veteran was in attendance at today’s ‘Bells across America’ ceremony.
Ninety-six year-old Paul Haplea is a retired seaman 1st class. He was assigned to the 62nd Seabees during WWII. He landed on Iwo Jima during the war at the time the famous photo of the flag being raised was taken.
Haplea was excited to be visiting Gulfport for this ceremony. He says coming to this base reminds him of his time in the Navy. “When we landed on Iwo Jima and we got to see the flag being raised on there and when I saw that flag being raised, we owned it.”
Throughout WWII, 325,000 men served in the Seabees.