The casualty rate among Marines on Iwo Jima was a staggering 22 percent, but Tolar escaped unhurt.
"I was one of the luckiest Marines ever," he said. "We lost so many buddies. We were demoralized."
The battle taught Americans the resolve of Japanese defense. It played a key role in the decision to use atomic bombs when attacking Hiroshima and Nagasaki rather than invading the Japanese homeland.
"The Japs didn't give up," Tolar said. "You had to kill them. Sometimes they'd kill themselves. They'd do anything but surrender."
It's important Americans remember battles like Iwo Jima, Tolar said. To help with that cause Tolar has written a memoir titled "28 Days" about his experiences.
Tolar and his friend Charlie Drake, another Ticonderoga Marine veteran, make it a point to observe anniversaries such as Feb. 19.
"On Memorial Day we raise the flag and salute," Tolar said. "But we should do more. We should remember the sacrifices of Americans every day. Charlie understand that. A better friend and Marine you'll never find.
"Mark Feb. 19 on your calendar and, if you will, give thought to this meager reminder," he said. "A degree of sorrow will be felt in your heart as well as a tremendous sense of pride for being an American and what it stands for.
"Semper Fi," he concluded.