‘He’s a hero’: US Marine who fought in Battle of Iwo Jima celebrates 99th birthday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A United States Marine veteran who fought for our country during one of the biggest battles of World War II is celebrating his 99th birthday.

Coy Shue was surrounded by family, friends, the local Marine Corps League and his wife of 72 years on Thursday.

“Well, I’m lucky. Been through the war and come through, 99 years old,” Shue said.

Shue spoke with Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis about his life and the battle most people just read about in history books.

70 years ago, Shue was a teenager from what’s now known as Charlotte’s NoDa community. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and found himself in WWII’s Battle of Iwo Jima.

“I just did my job, not a hero -- heroes died. I just did my job, like the rest of the servicemen. We fought for that flag, and it’s a symbol that we love,” Shue said. “On Iwo Jima, a bomb landed in the hole with me and didn’t go off, and I said right there, ‘Lord, I’ll be a good person for the rest of my life and serve you.’”

His son, Rob Shue, said he’s held onto that promise.

“He’s just a good man. That’s all he wants to be known as, and that’s what he’s been all his life,” Rob Shue said. “He’s a hero, and there’s not many left, so I’m so proud of him.”

Coy Shue and his wife Doris met after the war. They had two sons who were both Marines and have stayed in Charlotte their whole lives.

“How did you guys meet?” Gillis asked.

“Square dancing,” Coy Shue replied.

For someone who has seen a lot and lived a lot, Gillis asked if he would share some lessons learned along the way.

“I just wish everybody would think before they do anything. Trust in God. He’s the answer. He was my answer. He followed me all through the war, everyday. I pledged the Lord’s prayer, he spared me,” Coy Shue said.