BOYNTON BEACH — After Japan announced its World War II surrender, there were celebrations on the east side of the island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific.


Navy flags surged into the air, military men danced about and Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant David Segool thought, “Thank God it’s over.”


The 95-year-old vet recalled the ambiance of ebullience Wednesday as Boynton Beach veterans and public officials marked 74 years since Japan’s announcement, gathering off Federal Highway in a Boynton park adorned with veteran monuments and six dozen long-stemmed carnations.


“It was quite a celebration,” Segool said of the day Japan conceded. “War is hell. There’s no question about it.”


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Veterans perched around Segool on Wednesday included Korean War vets and Richard Goon, a United States citizen with Chinese heritage who joined the Flying Tigers. There were John Brindisi and Evert Bergquist, two Army vets who helped the D-Day effort and collected battle stars.


“We were a peaceful country,” said Bergquist, who waded through waters to reach Utah Beach. “Then, all of a sudden, we’re in World War II.”


Former staff sergeant Segool, now decorated with two battle stars and oversized silver aviators, said he stuck with the war from its start until well past its conclusion. He enlisted when he was 18, installing and operating control center radio equipment, working for B29s, P51s and Iwo Jima air and sea rescue.


Days after two atomic bombs exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the declaration of the war’s end was not a shock to Segool, stationed 750 miles from Tokyo. Still, he said, “Everyone was anxious to go home … I was so excited.”


What lay ahead for Segool was a lengthy trip just before Christmastime: He got shipping orders Dec. 3, trudged through volcanic ash to reach his ship, landed at a Los Angeles port and about two weeks later was one of 800 packing onto a steam-engine train bound for Massachusetts.


He remembers the camaraderie, the beer cases and whiskey bottles, the general who shot bullets from his 45 into the air to quiet the flurry of anticipation. He made it home for Christmas.


As Segool reflected on his service and the cataclysmic war’s end, his 62-year-old son, Richard Segool, watched from the audience, dripping with admiration. The two recently rode an honor flight together, greeted with a T-shirt, hugs, kisses and myriad thank-yous, to which David Segool said, “I thanked them for thanking me.”


Richard Segool said he knew little of his father’s military life when he was younger. His dad worked two jobs, he said, and “never said a word.”


After all, David Segool says he prefers to hold onto the good, rather than “gruesome” moments that often clutter war narratives. He prefers to lace recollections with lightheartedness, and nods to his mental stability, his health, his good fortune.


Randy Cramer, David Segool’s daughter, also attended Wednesday to support her dad.


“It’s incredible,” Randy Cramer said of her father’s narrative. “It brings tears to my eyes.”


esullivan@pbpost.com


@emsulliv