* Picture from Wikipedia (Joe Rosenthal AP)
I should imagine that a lot of you have seen the film “Flags of our Fathers” (Dir: Clint Eastwood) based on James Bradley & Ron Powers book of the same name published 2000. The film of the book tells the story of the invasion by the United States Marine Corp and the following battle to take the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese forces. There were 2 flags raised that day and a picture named “Gung Ho” taken of the first flag to be raised with a lot more marines including John Bradley and Hank Hansen who was mistakenly identified as the marine at the bottom of the pole instead of Harlan Block who also features in the “Gung Ho” picture (below).
*By Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, USMC, staff photographer for “Leatherneck” magazine – http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/i04000/i04150c.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=424989
There followed a second flag raising which was captured by Associated press photographer Joe Rosenthal (October 9, 1911 – August 20, 2006) and due to a need to start a 7th Bond drive to raise 14 billion dollars this famous picture was used to help the Bond drive for those funds. The fact remains however that 3 out of the 6, Harlan Block, Mike Strank and Frank Sousley were killed in action on Iwo Jima sometime after the flag raising February 23rd 1945. In the book “Flags of our Fathers”, James Bradley writes of his fathers unwillingness to talk about Iwo Jima or what followed on his return to the States, preferring to dodge the lime light and get on with a normal life. John “Doc” Bradley was awarded a Navy Cross for his bravery on Iwo Jima and saved many lives. All those marines whether its the first or second flag they raised were brave souls and deserve as much recognition as the rest on that island. The view in the states at the time of the flag being raised was that the island had been taken but there was another 4 weeks of hard fighting ahead before the slaughter ended with a total of 26,000 US casualties with nearly 7000 being killed. Japanese casualties were 21,000 the only battle in the pacific where the invaders had suffered more casualties than the defenders although I doubt many of those were taken as POW’s? There is some controversy as to whom exactly raised the second flag but personally I think today 73 years later we should remember all those who were part of “The Picture” before and after Joe Rosenthal set his camera to 1/400th of a second and all the other brave Marines and Navy personnel who took part in that momentous battle. Semper Fi.
Type V US Mint issued Navy Cross circa 1945.