Missouri native George Phillips joined the US Marine Corps in April 1944, at the age of 17. As part of the 5th Marine Division, Phillips joined the fight on Iwo Jima in March 1945. On March 14, Admiral Chester Nimitz declared Iwo Jima United States’ territory. That day, young Phillips, after just two days in the fighting on Iwo Jima, was in a cave with three other Marines when a Japanese soldier threw a hand grenade inside. As many young men had done before him, Phillips threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the blast and saving his comrades. Private George Phillips was 18 years old.