U.S. Flag Raised on Iwo Jima

U.S. Flag Raised on Iwo Jima

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During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. Americans fighting for control of Suribachi’s slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman.

WATCH: Pacific: The Lost Evidence on HISTORY Vault

Rosenthal took three photographs atop Suribachi. The first, which showed five Marines and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, became the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Prize. The accompanying motion-picture footage attests to the fact that the picture was not posed. Of the other two photos, the second was similar to the first but less affecting, and the third was a group picture of 18 Marines smiling and waving for the camera. Many of these men, including three of the Marines seen raising the flag in the famous Rosenthal photo, were killed before the conclusion of the Battle for Iwo Jima in late March.

In early 1945, U.S. military command sought to gain control of the island of Iwo Jima in advance of the projected aerial campaign against the Japanese home islands. Iwo Jima, a tiny volcanic island located in the Pacific about 700 miles southeast of Japan, was to be a base for fighter aircraft and an emergency-landing site for bombers. On February 19, 1945, after three days of heavy naval and aerial bombardment, the first wave of U.S. Marines stormed onto Iwo Jima’s inhospitable shores.

READ MORE: How US Marines Won the Battle of Iwo Jima

The Japanese garrison on the island numbered 22,000 heavily entrenched men. Their commander, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, had been expecting an Allied invasion for months and used the time wisely to construct an intricate and deadly system of underground tunnels, fortifications, and artillery that withstood the initial Allied bombardment. By the evening of the first day, despite incessant mortar fire, 30,000 U.S. Marines commanded by General Holland Smith managed to establish a solid beachhead.

During the next few days, the Marines advanced inch by inch under heavy fire from Japanese artillery and suffered suicidal charges from the Japanese infantry. Many of the Japanese defenders were never seen and remained underground manning artillery until they were blown apart by a grenade or rocket, or incinerated by a flame thrower.

While Japanese kamikaze flyers slammed into the Allied naval fleet around Iwo Jima, the Marines on the island continued their bloody advance across the island, responding to Kuribayashi’s lethal defenses with remarkable endurance. On February 23, the crest of 550-foot Mount Suribachi was taken, and the next day the slopes of the extinct volcano were secured.

By March 3, U.S. forces controlled all three airfields on the island, and on March 26 the last Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima were wiped out. Only 200 of the original 22,000 Japanese defenders were captured alive. More than 6,000 Americans died taking Iwo Jima, and some 17,000 were wounded.

READ MORE: The U.S. Raised the Iwo Jima Flag, then Occupied the Islands for 23 Years

Harold Schultz

Harold Henry Schultz (January 28, 1925 – May 16, 1995) was a United States Marine corporal who was wounded in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was a member of the patrol that captured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. He is one of the six Marines who raised the larger replacement flag on the mountaintop the same day as shown in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

The first flag flown over Mount Suribachi at the south end of Iwo Jima was regarded to be too small to be seen by the thousands of Marines fighting on the other side of the mountain, so it was replaced by the second one. Although there were photographs taken of the first flag flying on Mount Suribachi including some of Schultz, there is no photograph of Marines raising the first flag. The second flag-raising became famous and took precedence over the first flag-raising after copies of the second flag-raising photograph appeared in newspapers two days later. The second flag-raising was also filmed in color. [1]

Schultz was not recognized as one of the second flag-raisers until the Marine Corps announced on June 23, 2016, after an investigation, that he was in the historic photograph which was taken by combat photographer Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. [2] The Marine Corps also stated that Schultz was incorrectly identified as Private First Class Franklin Sousley in the photograph. Sousley himself was also incorrectly identified as Navy corpsman John Bradley, who they determined is not in the photo. Schultz is one of three Marines in the photograph who were not originally identified as flag raisers. [3]

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, is modeled after the historic photograph of six Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. [4]

Epic History: Meet the Heroes Who Raised The Flag on Iwo Jima

The identity of the two men who famously raised the flag has been revised and corrected by the Marine Corps.

Here's What You Need to Remember: The truth about the identities of the soldiers was then revealed in 2014 by amateur historian Eric Kelle when he published his detailed analysis of the photographs on his blog. The Marine Corps then initiated its own investigations into the photographs, leading to the revelations in June and this Wednesday.

The Marine Corps announced on August 24, 2016 that it revised the identification of two of the men who raised the first flag on Iwo Jima.

Marine Corps commandant General Robert B. Neller stated in an address on the revelation:

“Our history is important, and we owe it to our Marines and their families to ensure it is as accurate as possible. After we reviewed the second flag raising and found inconsistencies, we wanted to take another look at the first flag-raising to make sure we had it correct.”

The Confusion Around the Flag Raisers

The dual flag raisings on Iwo Jima have made identifying the individuals involved in each a source of confusion. Compounding this is the fact that Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who took the famed photograph of the second flag raising, never recorded the names of his subjects. It was weeks later that any names surfaced, by then some of these men had already been killed or wounded in action.

The most recent statements by the Marine Corps revealed that Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John H. Bradley (the only non-Marine in the photograph) and Pvt. Philip L. Ward were misidentified as Pfcs. Louis C. Charlo and James R. Michels in photographs of the first flag raising. Charlo was thought to be the soldier second from the left, gripping the flag, while Michels had been misidentified crouching forefront equipped with an M1 Carbine.

In June 2016, the Marine Corps revealed that it had also made a mistake identifying the soldiers in the photograph of the second raising: Pfc. Harold Schultz had been misidentified as Bradley.

The error was noticed initially by retired Marine Sgt. Maj. James Dever as he advised on the Clint Eastwood film Flags of Our Fathers which traced the experiences of the six men who raised the second flag on Iwo Jima. The truth about the identities of the soldiers was then revealed in 2014 by amateur historian Eric Kelle when he published his detailed analysis of the photographs on his blog. The Marine Corps then initiated its own investigations into the photographs, leading to the revelations in June and this Wednesday.

The History of the Two Flag Raisings on Iwo Jima

The first flag raising was not as publicized as the second flag raising, however, for the Marines and sailors on the sea and the shore the event was electrifying. Across the island, Marines cheered and ship’s horns blared. Coast Guard sailor Chet Hack recalled that “the uproar almost shook the sky”. When Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal saw the flag flying high above the crater-marked island, he declared “This means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.”

The second flag raising, in which Marines replaced the first flag with a much larger one, would be the one immortalized forever by war photographer Joe Rosenthal’s famous picture. The striking poses of the Marines planting the flag as it rippled in the violent winds of Iwo Jima captured the struggle in the Pacific for the American public. It has since featured prominently as a symbol of honor and sacrifice for the men of the Marine Corps. The statue of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington is a direct copy of the photograph. The roof of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia was also designed in its likeness.

The men who raised the second flag

Earlier in the day, a small American flag had been raised. Due to its size, however, most US troops could not see the small flag waving from Mount Suribachi. Therefore, six Marines hoisted up a second, much larger American flag.

These men were Michael Strank, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, and Harold Schultz. Strank, Block and Sousley went on to died on Iwo Jima less than a month after the raising of the flag.

Until 2016, Harold Schultz had been misidentified and was never publicly recognised for his part in the flag raising during his lifetime. He died in 1995.

Previously, it was believed that the sixth man was John Bradley, a Navy hospital corpsman. Bradley’s son, James Bradley, wrote a book about his father’s involvement called Flags of Our Fathers. It is now known that Bradley senior took place in the first flag raising on 23 February 1945.

The Iwo Jima Flag Raising: Part of What the U.S. Stands for

While the names of the Marines who were a part of the first Iwo Jima flag raising on Suribachi were relegated to the status of a historical footnote, those of the six men who raised the second flag became household words. Sergeant Michael Strank, Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John H. Bradley, Corporal Harlon H. Block, and Pfcs. Ira H. Hayes, Franklin R. Sousley, and Rene A. Gagnon will forever be remembered. Block, Sousley, and Strank did not survive the battle for Iwo Jima. Bradley, Gagnon, and Hayes became celebrities.

The first Iwo Jima flag raising by SSgt. Louis R. Lowery, USMC, is the most widely circulated photograph of the first flag flown on Mt. Suribachi (after the flag raising). Left to right: 1st Lt. Harold Schrier[7] (kneeling behind radioman’s legs), Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (radioman reassigned from F Company), Sgt. Henry “Hank” Hansen wearing cap, holding flagstaff with left hand), Platoon Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas (seated), Pvt. Phil Ward (holding lower flagstaff with both hands), PhM2c. John Bradley, USN (holding flagstaff with right hand above Ward), Pfc. James Michels (holding M1 Carbine), and Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg (standing above Michels).. Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

The Iwo Jima Flag Raising Becomes an Enduring Symbol

Sculptor Felix de Weldon used Rosenthal’s photograph as the model for the sculpture at the U.S. Marine War Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, which was dedicated in 1954. The image has been reproduced on everything from postage stamps to coffee mugs and T-shirts.

The second Iwo Jima flag raising By Joe Rosenthal. Image is in the public domain via Wikimedia.com

In 1999, a New York University survey named it number 68 on the list of the 100 best examples of journalism in the 20th century. It has become the symbol of the Marine Corps for all time. Joe Rosenthal, who died in 2006 at the age of 94, remembered the Marines and their great sacrifice as being much more significant than his photograph. He once said, “What I see behind the photo is what it took to get up those heights, the kind of devotion to their country that those young men had, and the sacrifices they made. I take some gratification in being a little part of what the U.S. stands for.”

Michael E. Haskew is the editor of WWII History Magazine and the former editor of World War II Magazine . He is the author of a number of books, including THE MARINES IN WORLD WAR II. The Sniper at War and Order of Battle. Haskew is also the editor of The World War II Desk Reference with the Eisenhower Center for American Studies. He lives in Hixson, Tennessee.

Video: Marine Corps Museum Hosts Rare Display to Mark Iwo Jima Anniversary

A less-well-known image from the top of Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, taken as Marines replace the first U.S. flag that flew over the island of Iwo Jima with the second. (USMC Archives/Flickr via Collection of Lou Lowery)

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is sharing one of America&rsquos most famous symbols of resolve in a rare display to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The American flags raised by Marines on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, are on display together at the museum through March 30. The flags are normally rotated and displayed individually to reduce exposure to harmful light.

The raising of the second flag was captured in a photograph by Joe Rosenthal that appeared on the front pages of U.S. newspapers the next day. It has become one of the most reproduced images of all time &ndash appearing on a postage stamp, in a cornfield and even a butter sculpture in a chow hall in Iraq.

Some people don&rsquot realize that it was actually the second flag raised. Its large size was more visible to ships at sea than the smaller flag it replaced.

The flag was obtained by Lt. (j.g.) Alan S. Wood, USNR, at a salvage depot at Pearl Harbor just before leaving for the Iwo Jima mission. In a July 7, 1945, letter to Brig. Gen. Robert Denig, USMC, Wood said he found the flag in a duffel bag with some signal flags, believing it came from an old decommissioned ship.

&ldquoIt was neatly folded and looked brand new,&rdquo Wood wrote (Read his letter, and see original shipping documents sending the flag to the museum, here ). &ldquoI wish I could tell you where it came from before I got hold of it as it would, no doubt, be of interest to trace it back to its origin. However at the time I naturally had no way of knowing that this fact would ever be of any interest to anyone, and so that is about all I can tell you about it.&rdquo

The Story Behind the Two Flag-Raisings at the Battle of Iwo Jima

Joe Rosenthal missed the moment when United States Marines first raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Associated Press photographer was still climbing up the mountain at the time.

But when Marines raised another flag, he was there to capture the image for the ages. And he would spend the rest of the war arguing over whether he'd staged the second raising.

Fighting on Iwo Jima lasted 36 days, but it took the Marines only five days to reach the top of the eight-square-mile island's highest point, Mount Suribachi. Almost from the get-go, the fighting was brutal. Japan had a year to reinforce the island with tunnels carved into the mountainside, hidden artillery positions and a network of reinforced bunkers.

Allied bombing and naval barrages could do nothing to soften up the island's defenses for the attacking Marines. When they landed, they were facing the full force of its Japanese defenders, who were willing to fight to the death for every inch of volcanic rock.

So when the Marines topped Suribachi and planted the first flag, it was a huge boon to the Marines fighting below and the sailors offshore. The ships blew their horns when they saw the flag. Gunfire and cheers erupted from the sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen fighting below.

Gunfire also erupted from the Japanese soldiers, who saw the flag as just a new target atop the island's highest peak. After the flag was raised, a hail of bullets came in around the Marines on Mount Suribachi.

Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine was there to capture the first raising, but had to dive for cover when the enemy started shooting. His camera was broken in the fall, and he had to go back down the mountain to get new gear. On his way to the rear, he passed Rosenthal and his Graflex 4x5 camera. The AP representative was about to get something few war photographers ever did: a second chance at capturing the moment.

By the time Rosenthal reached the top, the first flag was still there. Like any good photographer, he waited around to see what came next. He didn't have to wait long.

After seeing how the American troops responded to the first flag being raised, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson ordered a new, larger flag to be raised over the battlefield. This 96x56-inch flag would be one that could be seen across the island.

Rosenthal was present for this flag-raising. But he almost missed the second moment too.

Marine Sgt. William Genaust was filming the moment and asked Rosenthal whether he was in his way. The AP photographer turned to look at Genaust and realized the Marines were raising the flag.

He had to snap the now-iconic photo without looking into the viewfinder. His next shot was a group photo of 16 Marines and two Navy corpsmen around the raised flag.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up," he later told Colliers Magazine. "I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know."

Rosenthal sent the photo to be processed on Guam, where it was quickly sent out to The Associated Press in New York. Within 17 hours of the flag-raising, the photo was on the newswires -- and on the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It would win a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1945 and became a symbol of the enduring spirit of United States Marines.


Michael Strank was born in Jarabina, Prešov Region of northeastern Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia). His two brothers, Petro and John, and his sister Mary were born in the United States to Vasil Strank (later, in the U.S., known as Charles Strank) and Marta Grófiková, Rusyn immigrants. [3] [4] [5] Vasil Strank moved to Franklin Borough (near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States), found work in the coal mines for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and brought his family to Pennsylvania three years later, when he could pay for their voyage. Strank attended the public schools of Franklin Borough and graduated from Franklin Borough High School in 1937. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, served for 18 months, and afterwards became a Pennsylvania state highway laborer.

Strank enlisted in the Marine Corps at Pittsburgh for four years service on October 6, 1939. He was assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. He completed recruit training in December and was transferred to Headquarters Company, Post Troop and then to Provisional Company W at Parris Island, on January 17, 1941. Private First Class Strank sailed for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, arriving on January 23, 1941. He was reassigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Brigade (on February 1, the 1st Marine Brigade was redesignated the 1st Marine Division). On April 8, now assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, he returned to the United States and was sent back to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. He was promoted to corporal on April 23, 1941. In September, Cpl. Strank moved with the 1st Marine Division to New River (North Carolina) (Camp Lejeune), which is where he was stationed when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.

World War II Edit

On January 26, 1942, Cpl. Strank was promoted to sergeant. [2] On March 21, the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was detached from the 1st Marine Division and attached to the newly created 3rd Marine Brigade. In early April, he was sent with the battalion to San Diego, California and deployed on April 12 (sailed April 13) to Samoa arriving in American Samoa on April 28 [6] the 7th Marines were ordered to Samoa. On May 31, his battalion was transferred to Wallis (Urea) Island. [2] [6] In August, the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was detached from the 3rd Marine Brigade and reassigned to the 1st Marine Division also during August, the 22nd Marine Regiment relieved the 7th Marines which were ordered to reinforce Marine units fighting on Guadalcanal a battalion of the 22nd Marines relieved the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines on Urea. [7] In September, after a short time with the 22nd Marines, Sgt. Strank was transferred to the newly organized 3rd Marine Raider Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Harry B. Liversedge D Company, 3rd Raider Battalion was organized on Urea and joined the rest of the 3rd Raider Battalion at Pago Pago, American Samoa on December 21. In January and February 1943, the 3rd Raiders were sent to Espiritu Santo (Camp Rennie), New Hebrides, Islands and Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands.

As a member of the 3rd Raiders using 10-man rubber boats in their first offensive action, [8] Sgt. Strank (D Company) participated in the unopposed landing operations and occupation of Pavuvu (Operation Cleanslate) [9] in the Russell Islands from February 21 to March 18, 1943. On March 19, the battalion left the island and returned to Guadalcanal and Espiritu Santo (Camp Rennie) on March 20. On May 1, D Company was designated as M Company, 3rd Raider Battalion, 1st Marine Raider Regiment, 1st Marine Amphibious Corps.

On November 1, 1943, the 2nd and 3rd Raider Battalions spearheaded the initial invasion of Bougainville by the 3rd Marine Division. Sgt. Strank, M Company, 3rd Raiders, landed on Green Beach #2 at Cape Torokina and participated in the seizure and occupation of Empress Augusta Bay (Operation Cherryblossom). [10] On January 12, the 3rd Raiders were removed from the combat zone and returned to Guadalcanal, arriving on January 14. On February 1, the 1st Marine Raider Regiment was redesignated the 4th Marine Regiment. The 3rd Raider Battalion was disbanded and designated the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. On February 14, Sgt. Strank was sent to San Diego and allowed a leave to visit his family.

Battle of Iwo Jima Edit

Sgt. Strank returned to duty in San Diego and was assigned to Second Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, as a squad leader. He was sent to Hawaii with his unit after extensive training, and began more training and preparation for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

First flag-raising Edit

Sgt. Strank took part in the Second Battalion, 28th Marines, amphibious assault landing on Green Beach at the southern part of Iwo Jima near Mount Suribachi on February 19, 1945. The mission of the 28th Marines that day was to isolate Mount Suribachi, which it accomplished. The next day, the regiment secured the southern end of the island. Their mission afterwards, was to capture Mount Suribachi. After heavy opposition, the 28th Marines surrounded the mountain by the evening of February 22. On the morning of February 23, Lieutenant Colonel Chandler W. Johnson, commander of the Second Battalion, 28th Marines, ordered E Company's executive officer, First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, to take a platoon-sized patrol up 556-foot high Mount Suribachi to seize and occupy the crest, and if possible, raise the battalion's American flag to signal the summit was secure. E Company's commander, Captain Dave Severance, assembled a 40-man patrol for the mission from the remainder of his Third Platoon and other members from the battalion.

The patrol left the base of Mount Suribachi at about 8:30 a.m. Once Lt. Schrier was on top with his men after some occasional sniper fire and a brief firefight at the rim of the crater, he and his men secured the top. After a Japanese steel pipe was found, Lt. Schrier and two other Marines attached the flag to it. The flagstaff was then taken to the highest position on top and raised by Lt. Schrier, Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas, Sergeant Henry Hansen, [11] and Corporal Charles Lindberg at about 10:30 a.m. [12] Seeing the raising of the national colors immediately caused loud cheers from the Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen on the beaches at the southern end of Iwo Jima and from the men on the ships near the beaches. The men at, around, and holding the flagstaff were photographed several times by Marine Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine who accompanied the patrol up the mountain. Platoon Sgt. Thomas was killed in action on Iwo Jima on March 3 and Sgt. Hansen was killed on March 1.

Second flag-raising Edit

In order for the American flag to be seen more by the thousands of Marines fighting on the other side of Mount Suribachi where most of the Japanese soldiers were located, it was decided that a larger flag should replace the battalion's flag on Mount Suribachi. Captain Severance ordered Sgt. Strank to ascend Mount Suribachi with three Marines from his rifle squad in Second Platoon and raise the replacement flag. Sgt. Strank then ordered Corporal Harlon Block, Private First Class Ira Hayes, and Private First Class Franklin Sousley to go with him up Mount Suribachi with communication wire (or supplies). Private First Class Rene Gagnon, the Second Battalion's runner (messenger) for E Company, was ordered to take the replacement flag up the mountain and return with the first flag.

Once Sgt. Strank's team was on top, Pfc. Hayes and Pfc. Sousley found a Japanese steel pipe to attach the flag to. After the two Marines took the pipe to Sgt. Strank and Cpl. Block near the first flag, the flag was attached to the pipe. As the four Marines got into position to raise the flagstaff, Sgt. Strank and Cpl. Block called out to two nearby Marines to help them raise the heavy flagstaff. Then, under Lt. Schrier's orders, the second flag was raised at approximately 1 p.m. by Sgt. Strank, Cpl. Block, Pfc. Hayes, Pfc. Sousley, Pfc. Harold Schultz, and Pfc. Harold Keller, [14] [15] as the original flag came down. Pfc. Schultz and Pfc. Keller were members of Lt. Schrier's patrol. In order to keep the second flagstaff in a vertical position in the high winds on the summit, rocks were immediately added to the base of the flagstaff by Pfc. Schultz and Pfc. Keller, and another Marine. Three guy-ropes were then tied to the flagstaff to stabilize it. The six Marine flag-raisers were photographed in action by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and by Marine motion picture cameraman Sergeant William (Bill) Genaust (later killed in action) in color. After the second flag-raising, Rosenthal photographed sixteen Marines including Sgt. Strank and two Navy corpsmen around the base of the flagstaff. Rosenthal's black-and-white flag-raising picture, which appeared in newspapers on February 25, 1945, was later titled Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. It became the most copied photograph in Marine Corps history. [16]

On March 14, another American flag was officially raised up a flagpole by two Marines under the orders of Lt. Gen. Holland Smith during a ceremony at the V Amphibious Corps command post on the other side of Mount Suribachi where the 3rd Marine Division troops were located. The flag flying on the summit of Mount Suribachi since February 23 was taken down. On March 26, 1945, the island was considered secure and the battle of Iwo Jima was officially ended. The 28th Marines left Iwo Jima on March 27 and returned to Hawaii to the 5th Marine Division training camp. Lt. Col. Johnson was killed in action on March 2, Sgt. Genaust was killed on March 4, Sgt. Strank and Cpl. Block were killed on March 1, and Pfc. Sousley was killed on March 21.

On March 20, President Roosevelt ordered all the men in Rosenthal's photograph be sent to Washington D.C. after the battle was over. Pfc. Gagnon arrived alone on April 7 and was questioned at Marine Headquarters by a public information officer about the identities of the six flag raisers. Pfc. Gagnon identified Navy corpsman John Bradley and Pfc. Ira Hayes as flag raisers in the photograph and they were sent for and arrived on April 19 and, they were separately questioned that day (Sgt. Strank, Cpl. Block, and Pfc. Sousley were killed on Iwo Jima). All three said they were in the photograph and raised the flag on April 8, they had been named publicly by the Marine Corps as the surviving flag raisers. Over time it was discovered that all of the second flag-raisers were Marines and that three of the six Marines in Rosenthal's photograph were not correctly identified: Cpl. Block was not recognized until January 1947, Pfc. Schultz was not recognized until June 2016, [14] and Pfc. Keller was not recognized until October 2019. [15] Cpl. Block was incorrectly identified in the photograph as Henry Hansen. Pfc. Schultz was identified as Pfc. Sousley in the photograph. In turn, Pfc. Sousley was identified as PhM2c. Bradley in the photograph. Pfc. Keller was incorrectly identified as Pfc. Gagnon in the photograph. Rosenthal did not take the names of any of the flag raisers in his photograph. Pfc. Schultz and Pfc. Keller did not ever claim publicly to be in Rosenthal's photograph or that they were flag-raisers.

Death and burial Edit

On February 28, Sgt. Strank and E Company moved northward. Fighting was heavy, and both the Japanese and the American forces were taking heavy casualties. On March 1, Sgt. Strank's rifle squad came under heavy fire and took cover. While forming a plan of attack, he was killed by friendly artillery fire. The shell that killed him was almost certainly fired from offshore by an American ship. Cpl. Harlon Block, Sgt. Strank's assistant squad leader, took command of the squad. Cpl. Block was killed later on the same day by a Japanese mortar shell. However, former Marine Ralph Griffiths of Second Platoon, Easy Company, said that Sgt. Strank and Cpl. Block were on both sides of him on March 1 and were killed by the same shell which wounded him. [17] [18] [19] Sgt. Strank and the other Marines killed in action of the 28th Regiment were buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on the island with the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church. Sgt. Strank (and possibly Cpl. Block) was the first person in Rosenthal's flag raising photograph to be killed. On January 13, 1949, his remains were reinterred in Grave 7179, Section 12, Arlington National Cemetery.

Sgt. Strank's brother, Peter Strank, was serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin in the South Pacific when Sgt. Strank was killed. [20]

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, was dedicated on November 10, 1954. [21] Sculptor Felix de Weldon was inspired to make the memorial after seeing Rosenthal's photograph of the second flag raising. De Weldon duplicated the flag raisers images and positions on the memorial from the photograph. Strank is depicted as the fourth bronze figure from the base of the flagstaff on the memorial with the 32-foot (9.8 M) bronze figures of the other five flag raisers depicted on the memorial. The Marine Corps announced on June 23, 2016, that Harold Schultz is now in back of Strank instead of Franklin Sousley, who is now in front of Strank instead of John Bradley, who is no longer in the photograph. [14] The Memorial was turned over to the National Park Service in 1955.

During the dedication, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat upfront with Vice President Richard Nixon, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Anderson, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Orme Lewis, and General Lemuel C. Shepherd, the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps. [12] Ira Hayes, one of the three surviving flag-raisers depicted on the monument, was seated together with John Bradley, Rene Gagnon Mrs. Martha Strank, Ada Belle Block, and Mrs. Goldie Price (mother of Franklin Sousley). [22] Those giving remarks at the dedication included Robert Anderson, Chairman of Day Colonel J.W. Moreau, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), President, Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation General Shepherd, who presented the memorial to the American people Felix de Weldon, sculptor and Richard Nixon, who gave the dedication address. [23] [24] Inscribed on the memorial are the following words:

In Honor And Memory Of The Men of The United States Marine Corps Who Have Given Their Lives To Their Country Since 10 November 1775

The Battle of Iwo Jima: How This Iconic Photograph Was Captured

Key point: This photograph is in textbooks all across America. But the flag was not raised exactly that way as it happened in real life.

Atop 550-foot Suribachi Yama, the volcano at the southwest tip of Iwo Jima, Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment, 5th Division, hoist the Stars and Stripes, signaling the capture of this key position.

Photographer Joe Rosenthal’s “photo of U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on the summit of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima” is certainly the most famous photographic artifact to emerge from World War II, if not of all time. When it was first published, this galvanizing photo had an immediate effect both on the home front and in the upper echelons of military leadership.

During the more than 50 years that have elapsed since the photo was taken, it has remained a crucial artifact of military history, it has served to educate the public, and it has been used to tremendous propaganda effect by the Marine Corps. This picture was the culmination of four years of hit-and-miss combat correspondence in the Pacific. The fact that photographer Joe Rosenthal had access to the battlefield is only due to certain specific differences in the way the battle of Iwo Jima was reported, and it set a standard for the future.

However, the truth that is presented in this photograph and the facts behind the flag-raising do not match perfectly. This is why the picture is an excellent starting point for the analysis of war correspondence as a genre but just as important, it can be used to illustrate the potential for great differences between reality and public perception.

The High Cost of War in the South Pacific

The war against Japan was marked by an island-hopping campaign begun deep in the South Pacific that worked its way up through the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, through the coral islands of the Central Pacific, such as Tarawa and Peleliu. As the war’s end approached, General Douglas MacArthur, commander of U.S. troops in the South Pacific, was driving the U.S. Army north through the Philippines, while the Marines continued their campaign through the Marianas, finally reaching Iwo Jima and Okinawa, both considered Japanese Home Islands.

The Pacific campaigns are remembered for the great distances between engagements the amphibious nature of the battles, with troops landing on heavily defended beaches the gradual reduction of Japanese fortifications and heavy casualties. The war in the Pacific was very expensive, both in terms of manpower and logistics. For some Americans, it seemed senseless to be at war in the Pacific, fighting for useless coral atolls. Why not devote 100 percent of the effort to Europe? After the bloody Tarawa battle in late 1943, when a thousand Marines died trying to take a two-mile-long island, it was decided that a more aggressive correspondence strategy had to be developed to preserve support for the war in the Pacific among the American people.The problems facing the information services were rather drastic in the Pacific. Of course, the sheer remoteness of the campaigns was a primary factor. Most battles were conducted in areas a week or more sailing distance from Hawaii, and aircraft at the time were relatively short-ranged. After the battering received at Pearl Harbor, followed by the fall of Wake Island, the Philippines, and Guam to the Japanese, most war reports were geared toward raising morale rather than preparing the public for war.

The general system worked out for communication between front-line correspondents and the rear was convoluted at best. The correspondent on the beach would make notes, go back out to a command ship, and type up the story. The typed copy was usually loaded aboard a hospital plane evacuating the wounded and taken to Navy press headquarters at Pearl Harbor. Every dispatch was heavily censored, and it was not uncommon for a story to be lost, cut, or sometimes simply to be old news before it had a chance to be printed. At Tarawa, for example, the battle was over before the first “on the scene” radio broadcasts made it Stateside. During the invasion of Saipan, it took eight days for photographs of the landings to reach San Francisco.

Challenging the American Public’s Perceptions of War

Of course, time delay was by no means the only source of tension between the press, the public, and the military. As the war in the Pacific heated up, the American public and the military had a serious morale problem. In order to bolster the public perception of the American war machine, war reporting was heavily propaganda-driven. To correspondent Robert Sherrod, a good deal of the problem revolved around the use of “vivid verbs,” with a small bombing raid being presented as a rain of destruction on Japan, or an impression that “any American could lick 20 Japs.” Although the stories made good reading, they did not have much bearing on reality. Said one soldier to Sherrod: “The war that is being written in the newspapers must be a different war from the one we see.” Civilians, in many cases, just had no idea of the immensity of the effort that would be required to win the war, and the ultimate price that would have to be paid in blood and men.

In order to change public perception regarding the true nature of the war, and in preparation for the invasion of Japan, for which Allied planners were forecasting up to a million casualties, a more aggressive system of combat correspondence was worked out. “It is the express desire of the Navy Department that a more aggressive policy be pursued with regard to press, magazine, radio, and photographic coverage of military activities in the Pacific Ocean Areas,” a Navy document read.

There were to be civilian as well as military correspondents at battles, subject to less censorship and allowed to publish more graphic photos. Turnaround time between a correspondent’s filing of a story and its publication in the States was to be shortened. By the time of the Iwo Jima invasion in February 1945, war correspondence in the Pacific was a completely different undertaking than it had been at the beginning of the war. There were more than a hundred correspondents present, both civilian and military. Live radio broadcasts were now possible from the beachhead, and there were five special landing craft whose only functions were to land and remove reporters and haul off film and copy. Dispatches were passed by a censor, teletyped to Guam, and then relayed to the mainland by shortwave radio. Daily, a Navy airplane would pick up still and newsreel film and fly it straight to Hawaii for processing and distribution. With this system in place, the groundwork was laid for one of the most famous photographs in history.

Five days into the conflict, Iwo Jima was cut in half. In the south, Marines were in the final stages of reducing the Japanese defenses on Mount Suribachi, while Japanese defenders still controlled most of the north. Casualties thus far had been distressingly high, and there was no easy end to the battle in sight.

“The Uproar Almost Shook the Sky”

An early-morning patrol showed that there was no visible resistance on the mountain peak, so it was decided to send a patrol to the summit to plant a flag. Visible across the island, the patrol reached the top of the mountain, and as Louis Lowery, a photographer for Leatherneck magazine, took pictures, the Stars and Stripes, attached to a long pipe found in the rubble at the top of Suribachi, was raised over Iwo Jima. Six men raised the flag, and across the island Marines cheered and ships’ horns blared. In the words of Coast Guard sailor Chet Hack: “Talk about patriotism. The uproar almost shook the sky.” Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal declared, “This means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” Little did he know how much the future of the Corps and the flag on top of the peak would be interwoven. This is the flag-raising that meant the most to the Marines. They would later openly deride the iconoclastic image of the second flag- raising, the one that means so much to the public. To Colonel Chandler Johnson, whose troops had placed the flag, it had one immediate implication: “Some son of a bitch is going to want that flag, but he’s not going to get it. That’s our flag. Better find another one and get it up there, and bring back ours.”

As a second patrol, equipped with a much larger 56-by 96-inch flag liberated from a landing ship, headed up the slopes of Suribachi, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, along with two enlisted Marine photographers, tagged along. Originally set up for a shot of the first flag going down as the second went up, Rosenthal was unable to get that picture, so he snapped a photo only of the second flag going up. The six men in the famous photo are indistinguishable. No rank or unit insignias are visible, and each man is similarly clothed in combat jacket, helmet, and dungarees. The flag is still partially furled, although it seems that just as the picture was taken, the wind was catching it and stretching it out. Were it not for the twisted bits of wood, metal, and shattered rock at their feet, one might never know that this picture was taken in a combat zone. Technically speaking, it could be considered a bad photograph, as there are no visible faces and the viewer can barely tell how many men are involved with raising the flag. There was no identification of the men Rosenthal did not have a chance to document that at the time. It took weeks for names to be put with the individuals pictured, by which time some of them had been injured or killed.


1970s Panavision advertisement

The Official British Army Fitness Program

A Closer Look at Raising The American Flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima

From the initial landings on February 19 to the end of the campaign to take the island of Iwo Jima on March 26, 1945, the Marines, who were engaged in a monumental and bloody fight, knew that they were up against a fanatical and determined enemy. The long island-hopping campaign by the Americans and their allies to push the Japanese back to their own mainland was drawing ever closer to that goal, and the Japanese defenses on each of those islands grew more and more fierce.

The Marines engaged in the fight for Iwo Jima included elements of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions. There were 110,000 U.S Marines, soldiers, and sailors, including Seabees, who would fight and die over the course of those 35 days against a well-entrenched force of some 21,000 Japanese soldiers of the 109th IJA Division, the 2nd Mixed Brigade, the 3rd Bn, 17th Mixed Regiment, the 26th Tank Regiment, the 145th Infantry Regiment, and a Brigade Artillery Group.

Photo: YouTube/Forrest Haggerty

The Japanese had spent months constructing intricate and fortified tunnels and artillery positions that had zeroed in every square inch of the island. They were ready and determined to fight to their last man, if necessary.

By the end of the battle, the Marines would suffer the loss of 6,821 KIA and 19,217 WIA. The Japanese lost 17,845 to 18,375 dead or missing out of their original 21,000. Iwo Jima would be the most costly of all of the fiercely fought landings the Marines made during WWII.

Photo: YouTube/Forrest Haggerty

On the 5th day of the battle, a small group of Marines had reached the top of Mt. Suribachi, the old dormant volcano and the highest point on the island. When they reached the top, an American flag was raised that lifted the morale of the Marines who were only in the beginning stages of this long and bloody battle.

A second, larger, more visible flag was raised later that day by a group of 5 Marines and 1 Corpsman. That raising was captured in the now-famous black and white photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal and has become one of the Marine Corps’s most iconic symbols. The huge sculpture that is the Marine Corps Monument near Arlington National Cemetery is a depiction of that photo in 3 dimensions. The National Museum of the Marine Corps building outside the Quantico Marine Base was designed to represent that flag raising as well. This museum is a must-see if you are ever near there.

Photo: YouTube/Forrest Haggerty

This video takes you through the basics of the landings and the raising of the flag atop Mt. Suribachi. It is done through the aid of Google Maps, and the narrator brings you a bird’s eye view of the details of the island’s location and the flag-raising site and monument that is now present on the very spot of that raising.

You will also get a sense of how infinitesimally small that dot of an island is in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean some 650 miles south of the mainland of Japan. It is an interesting way to look at the physical location where this titanic and very costly battle of WWII took place.

Photo: YouTube/Forrest Haggerty

We honor the memory of all of those Marines, soldiers, sailors, Seabees, and airmen who gave their last full measure in the Battle of Iwo Jima. We remember the terrible cost of war experienced by those who fight it, their families, and the nation. Those men were heroic examples of what we have come to call “The Greatest Generation.” It is truly said of those who fought at Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue” there. Semper Fidelis! Oorah!

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