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Oldest Marine who survived Iwo Jima dies at 103

John Moon, a Marine and veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima sings the national anthem during Military Appreciation Night at Western Illinois University (Western Illinois University/Released)
November 01, 2019

The oldest known Marine to have fought in the World War II battle of Iwo Jima passed away on Tuesday of this week.

John Moon, 103, of Macomb, Chicago has died, marking the loss of the oldest living survivor of Iwo Jima. According to Chicago WGN 9, the Marine and Western Illinois University alumni had risen to viral fame in recent years for singing the national anthem at a WIU women’s basketball game in 2017, at the age of 100.

At the time Moon joined the Marines in 1943, he had been a WIU graduate, husband and father of a young son and held a job with the Caterpillar Tractor Company in East Peoria, Illinois, his obituary states. Moon was inspired to serve after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and chose to enlist on Dec. 29, 1943.

After his boot camp training at Camp Pendleton, Moon was assigned to the 5th Marine Division.

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On February 19, 1945, Moon’s division participated in the amphibious assault on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima. Moon fought throughout the battle until he was injured and went on to receive the Purple Heart in September of that year.

After returning home from his service, Moon went on to hold many jobs, including running two restaurants. Moon also worked as a carpenter, a school bus driver and a life insurance salesman. Before retiring, Moon went on to teach driver’s education and even at the age of 103, Moon still had many former students thanking him for teaching them to drive.

His obituary noted Moon as an active member of his community, supporting the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion as well as the Optimist Club and the local Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. Moon was a lifelong member of the Wesley United Methodist Church where he sang in the choir and drove elderly churchgoers to Sunday services.

Moon was also a Freemason and served as a Macomb City Council Alderman.

“John was a well-known and loved member of the community. Many will miss hearing his amazing singing voice, watching him ride his three-wheel bike, and his ‘fantastic’ attitude,” his obituary read.

Moon’s family will hold a memorial service on Nov. 7 at the Wesley Methodist Church and he will be interned at the Forest Lawn Memory Gardens Cemetery with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, Moon’s family said donations can be made to Wesley United Methodist Church or Wesley Village Retirement Center.