Remembrance: Shelton mayor receives gift commemorating Iwo Jima, his father’s service

American Legion Post 16 Commander Dave Gallagher, right, presented Mayor Mark Lauretti an Iwo Jima commemorative knife on the 76th anniversary of the flag raising on the Japanese Island during WWII, before the start of the Board of Aldermen meeting at Shelton City Hall in Shelton, Conn., on Tuesday Feb. 23, 2021.

American Legion Post 16 Commander Dave Gallagher, right, presented Mayor Mark Lauretti an Iwo Jima commemorative knife on the 76th anniversary of the flag raising on the Japanese Island during WWII, before the start of the Board of Aldermen meeting at Shelton City Hall in Shelton, Conn., on Tuesday Feb. 23, 2021.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The local American Legion Post 16 commemorated the Battle of Iwo Jima — and recognized Mayor Mark Lauretti’s father, John Sr., — with a special gift presented to the mayor.

Post 16 Commander Dave Gallagher, during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, presented Lauretti with a commemorative knife, inscribed with the name of his father, a Private First Class, Fourth Marine Division, who fought in the battle.

Tuesday was the 76th anniversary — Feb. 23, 1945 — of when the American flag was raised atop Mt. Suribachi on the Japanese island during World War II.

“I was surprised,” Lauretti said about the gift.

Lauretti attended ceremonies earlier on Tuesday in New Britain and Newington commemorating the end of the battle.

Lauretti said there were some eight survivors, including his father, in the Battle of Iwo Jima living in Shelton, and he would join them each year at the ceremonies commemorating the American victory. His father has since died, but Lauretti said he still keeps the promise to attend the ceremonies each year.

He said he attends the ceremonies to honor the “value and importance of America’s greatest generation” and continue to promote the “contributions these soldiers made to not only the United States but also the free world.

“The younger generations need to know the sacrifices they made,” Lauretti said.

Gallagher said a Post 16 member found the commemorative knife, and it reminded him of a fellow comrade legionnaire who was also an Iwo Jima survivor — John Lauretti Sr.

“The knife was inscribed in John’s memory and was presented to Mark Lauretti in memory of his father,” Gallagher said, adding that the knife is similar to the ones that the Marines who fought on Iwo Jima 76 years ago would have carried.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com