In February 1945, a few days into the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most indelible images of the World War II was captured on film: Five Marines and one Navy corpsman, raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

But it would take the Americans another month to take the island — one yard at a time. Along the way they would suffer staggering casualties. The Pacific Marine commander, Lt. Gen. Holland M. "Howling Mad" Smith, called it the “toughest fight in U.S. Marine history.”

Among the 70,000 Americans involved in the fight was a 19-year-old Quincy boy: Pfc. William R. Caddy.

“He was kind of an all-American boy,” said his niece, Marcia Morse. “He wasn’t, someone said, a great student. But he was a good athlete and he loved baseball. He would hide his things in the shrubs around the house and then after he was supposed to be in school he would go practice his baseball.”

Caddy’s story is well known in Quincy, and a source of pride for his two nieces, Morse and her sister, Sherri Holleran.

“He had a difficult life” said Holleran. “It was the Depression, but he had the gift of values and he wanted to do something for the country. He really wanted to be a Marine.”

And so he left his job delivering milk around Quincy on horseback and enlisted. His first deployment after training was to Iwo Jima. Twelve days into the battle, Caddy and two fellow Marines, advancing through an isolated sector, found themselves pinned in a foxhole, engaged in a fierce firefight with a Japanese sniper.

Morse explained it was then that a grenade fell in a foxhole. Caddy smothered it with his body and saved the two Marines with him.

But the blast killed Caddy instantly. His fellow Marines would both go on to survive the ordeal.

One of the men, Ott Farris, would go on to serve his country for years. “He ended up being in three wars,” said Morse, “World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and was highly decorated.”

In 1946, Caddy was posthumously awarded the country’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, by President Harry Truman. The citation read, in part: "Stouthearted and indomitable, he gallantly gave his life for his country."

In 1963, Treasure Island Park, along Quincy Shore Drive in his hometown, was renamed "Pfc. William R. Caddy Memorial Park.” Each year there was a memorial wreath laying at the park. Holleran says her mother, Caddy’s sister, never missed it.

“She went every year she was alive," Holleran said. "Never missed it. It was bitingly cold on the beach there and she was so proud. She told anybody. Anybody that would listen she would tell them the story.”

William R. Caddy: One of 6,800 American who gave their lives during the Battle of Iwo Jima, which began 69 years ago this week.