Marine Commander of Iwo Jima flag raising Col. Dave Severance immortalized at Mt. Soledad
SAN DIEGO (KUSI)- As a resident of La Jolla since the late 60s, Col. Dave Severance has epitomized the enduring connection that the San Diego community has with its Marine Corps. The centurion was born in Milwaukee in 1919, and grew up in the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains – in the then small community of Greely, CO. Colonel Severance found his way to San Diego after briefly attending university in Seattle when he completed recruit training at MCRD San Diego and served in the Fleet Marine Force. Eventually stationed in San Diego with the historic 8th Marine Regiment, Col. Severance excelled as a young enlisted Marine and reached the rank of sergeant before attending officer candidate school to earn his commission as World War II began to escalate.
As a platoon commander in 1943, Col. Severance faced the Japanese Imperial Army and valiantly led his Marines to victory in the battle of Bougainville Island on Papua New Guinea. After a short return to the United States, Col. Severance was given command of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, and began preparations to return to the Pacific – not knowing that their destination would be one of the most deadly battles in history. The now historic Easy Company has been immortalized through films, books, and television series for their heroic actions during 33 of the 36 day Iwo Jima campaign, and inspired a nation by raising a flag on the top of Mount Suribachi – captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. For his actions commanding Easy Company, Col. Severance received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity.
Following World War II, Col. Severance completed flight training and was subsequently assigned to VMA 542 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. During the period 1952-1953, he was assigned to VMF(N) 513 in Korea. He flew both propeller and jet all-weather/night fighter aircraft, and he completed 69 combat missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal and four Air Medals.
Colonel Severance is a widower. He has three children. Both his sons, David and Michael, served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Officer David Severance retired from the Seattle Police Department after 30 years of service, and Officer Michael Severance retired from the Seattle Police Department after almost 47 years of service. His daughter, Lynn, is a retired elementary school teacher. Colonel Severance has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.