Heartland WWII Veteran shares poem about service in Iwo Jima

Published: Nov. 11, 2019 at 8:50 PM CST
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FREDONIA, Ky. (KFVS) - A World War II veteran from Western Kentucky spoke at numerous Veteran’s Day events during the holiday weekend and shared a poem about a special realization he made during the battle of Iwo Jima.

94-year-old Dale Faughn had just graduated high school when he was drafted in the US Marine Corps.

Faughn said his heart was full of adventure and patriotism, and entering the service gave the boy from rural Fredonia, Kentucky a chance to explore the world.

“I hadn’t been anywhere. I had a little notebook in my pocket here and I was making notes all the way. It was a great experience,” Faughn said. “I’ve been a dreamer all of my life and thinking things can happen, and having seen things out in the military this helped me tremendously there.”

Faughn served in the battle of Iwo Jima and the occupation of Japan, and one day had an epiphany that inspired him to write ‘I met the Flag at Iwo Jima.'

It’s one of his earliest and most famous poems that describes the American Flag as a symbol of sacrifice and freedom.

“I was just so moved by what I saw going on there. It was just a feeling I had to get out and share with people," Faughn said. "I probably wouldn’t have started writing, probably wouldn’t have been a Kentucky Poet Laureate if I hadn’t started somewhere. It was just a driving force.”

When he returned home Faughn used his GI bill to enroll in Murray State University where he studied agriculture and education.

He became a teacher and continued for 61 years, teaching 17 different disciplines throughout his career.

“Teaching really was an obsession with me. Some people would say I wasn’t an ordinary teacher," Faughn said. "Some say I wasn’t an ordinary human being and I treasure the fact that I’m like that.”

Throughout his life, Faughn has earned numerous teaching awards, has written more than 1,500 poems, and even got the last question on the famous 1950′s game show The $64,000 Challenge.

“Neither (the other contestant) or I could answer completely that last question, and that is when they gave us each $8,000 as a consolation prize,” Faughn said. “That was pretty consoling to this teacher. It would’ve taken about 2 and a half years to have made $8,000.”

Faughn is still in good shape and ran competitively for more than 30 years. He said his healthy lifestyle keeps him young at heart.

“Some ask me why are you are exercising some much here at 94? Well, I want to exercise and still be in good condition when I do get old,” Faughn said with a laugh.

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