WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -

Soldiers are the ones who give the ultimate sacrifice to give us our freedoms.

One World War II veteran who put his life on the line also celebrates his birthday on the Fourth of July.

Glenn Barnhart of Waterford knows about Independence Day sacrifice.  He was a marine demolition man who spent four horrifying days on Peleliu, a Pacific island that hosted one of the war’s bloodiest and deadly battles.

The photographer who took the picture below died on that day. Barnhart is pictured right.

WWII veteran Glenn Barnhart in war

Generals estimated three days to conquer Peleliu. It actually took 74 days to complete the mission.

"It was a slaughter," says Barnhart.

Barnhart just barely survived a mortar blast.

“My eyes were bleeding.  I looked over and my buddy was laying maybe forty yards from me.  He had his leg blown off," says Barnhart.

Walking around dead bodies, marines carried Barnhart and his buddy to a Red Cross hospital ship.  This happened when a Japanese submarine came calling.

“Fighters, and they were dropping bombs on them.  All of a sudden he came out of the water, the sub, out of the water and it blew up, and down it went," recalls Barnhart.

The birthday cards are out.  The birthday cake with the stock car celebrate his years as an experimental engine builder for General Motors who raced quite successfully.

Barnhart owned a filling station for years after that.  Now, he looks back at his long life, and the fourth of July should have a very special meaning for us all.

“Voting is the most important thing you can do in your life,” says Barnhart. “It makes you an American.”

Barnhart is off to visit with his grandchildren in Grand Blanc, but he promises to regale them with the tales of the true meaning of Independence Day.