HOUSTON -

At 94-years old, Leslie Tolbirt vividly remembers details from nearly 70 years ago when he found himself in the middle of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Tolbirt was in the third wave with the fifth Marine Division, originally assigned as a radio operator. He found himself on the front lines as an infantryman, a place where Tolbirt told Local 2 that his story almost came to an end.

"I was afraid to take me first breath, I had been hit, but I didn't know how bad," Tolbirt said.

A Japanese sniper landed a shot that Tolbirt thought would kill him, but he was pulled to safety, surviving and earning a purple heart.

Tolbirt returned to duty in Japan before heading home to Houston where he wrote the next chapter of his story; becoming a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

Tolbirt's family wants Houston to know the pride they have for their veteran.

"He's the foundation that makes everyone in this family want to be better," Russell Sackett, Tolbirt's grandson said.