Leroy Peasley of Rockland is a U.S. Marine who served in World War II, including time at Shangri-La, Iwo Jima and Guam. After the war, he worked as a teacher. In April 2010, he met President Barack Obama when Peasley was asked to lead the people in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag during the president's visit to Portland.

I was only a few months into my 19th year when I was assigned to join the other 102 Marine guards at Shangri-La, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's retreat in Thurmont, Md. in the Catoctin Mountains (now called Camp David).

I had been serving as a Marine guard at 8th and I streets in Washington, D.C., the home and headquarters of the Marine Corps Command.

As I think back to those days, 70 years ago, when I was a young Marine, I recall one outstanding Marine, a Top-Kick, (S. Sgt.). He was a very tall man, with a rugged build, and when he spoke us young Marines came to attention and listened.

On one of the days I was on guard duty at my favorite post, the President's lodge, that outstanding sergeant was also on duty. The jeep driver was a corporal who drove the sergeant up the old, dirt mountain road to the president's lodge that I was guarding. I could hear the engine in the jeep, and I knew that the sergeant would soon be at my post, and I wanted to impress him with what I had been trained to do.

When the sergeant was a short distance from me, I said in a loud voice, "Halt! Who goes there? Advance and be recognized!" I thought I had done alright until the sergeant asked me my first general order, and I began to stutter. "Stop," he said, in his easy, assuring way. "Private Peasley, relax and then think, and then, slowly, tell me your first general order." And I did. Those words of advice have guided me for the last 70 years.

That outstanding Marine sergeant was shipped out to join the Second Marine Division in the late summer, and in November 1943, the second division invaded Tarawa where the sergeant was killed in the line of duty, but his devotion to God, country and the Marine Corps. was in the highest Marine tradition.

The Secret Service was always with the president, even when he went to the presidential retreat at Shangri-La. The Secret Service had their assigned area and cabins and the Marines took over.

I'll never forget the duty I was assigned to do one night as a marine guard, and that was a Supernumerary (do anything needed), and I had to patrol the dimly-lit paths in the woods near the president's lodge for security. On that evening I was approached by two men.

"Halt," I said, "Who goes there? Advance and be recognized!"

The men followed my orders, but became nervous when I drew my .45 from its holster, but I put them at ease after I had checked their security badges. They were security guards from Scotland Yard here at Shangri-La to protect Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was meeting with President Roosevelt.

My first year of duty as a Marine Guard at Shangri-La went very quickly, and during that time I received my Private First Class stripe, which I was very proud to wear.

It was now April 1944, and I was on duty at my favorite post, the President's Lodge, and I had relieved the guard on duty when I was approached by a sergeant from the Army Corps with security clearance to have his crew and their equipment there to build a small fishing pond so the president would be able to go fishing, something he had loved to do all his life. The Army even made a ramp so the president could be wheeled up closer to the pond to fish.

I think back to that day and I thank the ones who cared for our Commander in Chief, to have him relax and enjoy life. He gave his life for his country.

I was with the Third Marine Division on Guam when the sad news came that our Commander in Chief was dead. With a heavy heart, I thought, "More sorrow and grief."

I, like the millions of other servicemen and women during World War II were the veterans who became the strength and the power in the country to defeat two nations, Germany and Japan.

I have tried for more than 30 years to be allowed to visit my old post at Shangri-La (now Camp David), to stand again by the President's Lodge and look out over the mountain. I have written to presidents, senators and the commandant of the Marine Corps with no hope to ever visit my old post of duty again. I will be 90 years old my next birthday, so you see, I do not have time on my side.

Semper Fi, P.F.C. Leroy E. Peasley