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ARLINGTON — An Arlington man who fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and was a mere stone’s throw from both flags being raised on Mount Suribachi, will be paid tribute in a service starting at 11 a.m. at Arlington Common on Saturday.

Longtime Arlington resident and Marine Corps veteran Gedeon LaCroix passed away at the age of 99 in January. The public is invited to pay their respects in a ceremony to open Memorial Day Weekend.

“Gedeon was very committed to Memorial Day and what it represented, a day to remember those who died while in service,” said Don Keelan, a friend of the LaCroix family and a fellow Marine and Arlington resident. “It’s only appropriate that we’ll be honoring Gedeon on our first Memorial Day without him.”

Keelan will give a speech about LaCroix’s Marine Corps service, which included fighting in some of the bloodiest battles of World War II’s Pacific Theater. In addition to the vicious battle on Iwo Jima, during which he estimated his foxhole was only about 50 yards away from the iconic flag raisings, LaCroix also saw combat at Guadalcanal, with stops in Bougainville, Saipan, Tinian and Guam.

LaCroix joined the Marines just a month after hearing of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

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A freshman at the University of Vermont, he hitchhiked with a friend all the way from Burlington to a recruiting office in Pittsfield, Mass., to join the fight.

LaCroix’s son, Chris, will also speak at the service about his very full life after serving. LaCroix was a proud Marine and stayed active in the veteran community for decades after separating from the military. He ran the Marine Corps Birthday Luncheon for years before passing it on to Keelan.

Keelan said Neil Freebern, director of creative arts at Burr and Burton Academy, will be there to play the “Marine Corps Hymn,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Taps.” Bennington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1332 is also providing a three-person firing squad to perform a 21-gun salute.

Keelan will present a folded American flag to the LaCroix family and the family will lay a ceremonial wreath at the foot of the flagpole at the Arlington Common.

Tory Rich can be reached at


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