February 23, 1945

February 23, 1945, Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima. A split second of the lives of five Marines and one Navy Corpsman are captured for eternity, and raise the  spirits of a war-weary nation.

The photo captures not only the ascendancy of the United States and the valor of the American warrior, but the ethos of the Marine as well, and is a microcosm of the Corps. The six individuals are melded into one form, one organism, exerting themselves to complete the mission. In the final moment of completing that mission they are anonymous individuals, no face clearly visible, only helmeted warriors in a brief moment of temporary victory in the larger, longer overall effort to win the battle. One battle, at that brief moment in time still long from being finished, in a long war that was also far from being finished.

Despite the illusion of final victory that the image presents, the bloody battle of Iwo Jima would rage for another four weeks, eventually taking the lives of three of the men.Three out of a total of 6,421 Americans, and nearly 23,000 Japanese, who would fall there.

While they are anonymous images in Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image, they were real, living men with families and loved ones at home to whom they were anything but anonymous.

The flag raisers are from left to right, front row, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Franklin Sousley, Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class John Bradley, and Corporal Harlon Block. Left to right, second row, are Sergeant Michael Strank and Private First Class Rene Gagnon.

Sgt. Mike Strank, was born 1919 in Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia, KIA February 29, 1945, Iwo Jima.

Cpl. Harlon Block, was born 1924 in Yorktown, Texas, KIA February 29, 1945, Iwo Jima.

PFC. Franklin Sousley, was born 1925 in Hilltop Kentucky, KIA March 21, 1945 Iwo Jima.

PFC. Ira Hayes, was born 1923 in Sacaton, Arizona, died January 24, 1955, Bapchule, Arizona.

PFC Rene Gagnon, was born 1925 in Manchester, New Hampshire, died October 12, 1979, Manchester, New Hampshire.

PM2 John Bradley, was born 1923 in Antigo, Washington, WIA Iwo Jima, died January 11, 1994, Antigo, Wisconsin.

They have all left us now, but their sacrifice is immortal. It will remain to inspire future generations to greatness for as long as the flag they raised 68 years ago continues to fly free.

30 comments

  1. 1
    single stack growls and barks:

    May we always be worthy of such men as these.

  2. 2

    1 VOTE FOR : Best Post of the week

    Awe inspiring.
    LC IB CiSSnarl5.7 Imperial Foreign War Correspondant recently posted..February 23, 1945My Profile

  3. 3
    imtay1970 growls and barks:

    2 VOTES

  4. 4
    LC SecondMouse growls and barks:

    Three.

    Thanks, Crunchie. Brilliantly done, as usual. In a proper world, this story would be retold on all forms of American media, throughout the day. There is still at least one corner of the world where this history is known and understood as the great legacy it is.

  5. 5
    BigDogg growls and barks:

    Cannot say anything that adds to or is better than the original post and the comments that precede mine … only “ditto.”

  6. 6
    nealinnevada growls and barks:

    Thanks Crunch…this stirs my old heart. I remember as a child looking at this photo and being awe-inspired. Now I am awe-inspired and tearful.

  7. 7
    harleycowboy growls and barks:

    Tears run from my eyes as I recognize the sacrifices you made. We are truly unworthy of you as we have allowed this country which you defedned with your lives to become what it is today.

  8. 8
    LC Spare Parts growls and barks:

    A half scale reproduction of that sculpture was under the hammer this week at Bonhams, NY and failed to meet it’s reserve. The agents for the owners have it consigned to that gallery and are willing to punt on the $1,8000,000 they were aiming for. Any takers?

    Also: See this week’s Forbes and read the think piece by Angelo Codevilla about the RINO’s joining our enemies to crush us. We are “Orphan voters”, no politician wants for constituents. He makes very plain what I’ve been saying for 40 years. The “establishment” considers US an entity to be subjugated.

  9. 9
    Orion growls and barks:

    Four…

    I may be Army, but Semper Fi, Marines. We’ll be needing you badly here soon.

    Orion

  10. 10

    vote #5
    .
    I never see that photo that it doesn’t stop me dead in my tracks. A mixture of emotions and feelings when I see it…..first, it’s magnificently composed…..then the feeling of patriotism and gratitude.

    I pray that we as a nation deserve their sacrifice.

  11. 11
    single stack growls and barks:

    A bit of trivia:
    The actual flag in Joe Rosenthal’s picture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima was loaned to the studio by the US Marine Corps Museum for the flag raising scene in Sands of Iwo Jima.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2Ym1rmWr3s

  12. 12
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    I salute them, Crunch. May we serve as well.

  13. 13
    VonZorch Imperial Researcher growls and barks:

    And #6.

  14. 14
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    They’re in Heaven now. God has blessed them.

    Here on Earth: please pass this on to anyone and everyone.

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  15. 15
    LC Xystus growls and barks:

    Let’s not forget that this was the second flag raising that day. The first, though with a smaller flag, elicited the big reaction from the troops & ships. Its last surviving participant was Charles Lindberg (standing, right) from Grand Forks, ND–who’d vacationed in my hometown in his youth. He died six years ago in suburban Minneapolis.

  16. 16
    LC/IB PrimEviL growls and barks:

    Excellent, Crunchie.

    I would like to add, that the flag and pole used in Rosenthal’s shot were not the first.

    The first was a small flag, that was carried up Suribachi stuffed in a Marine’s gear, sans staff while under enemy fire.

    It was hoisted on a peice of pipe they found on top. They were five men of a forty-man patrol, thirty-six of which were
    later killed or wounded in action on Iwo.

    Their names were:
    1LT Lieutenant Schrier, Sergeant Thomas, Sergeant Hansen, Private First Class Charlo, Private First Class Michels,
    and Corporal Charles W. Lindberg.

    The image was a production, a bit of theater for the camera, done after the shooting had stopped.

    Raising the flag on Iwo
    LC/IB PrimEviL recently posted..Public Service AnnoucementMy Profile

  17. 17
    NR Pax growls and barks:

    In 2005, I was present at the Memorial during a ceremony honoring the 60th anniversary of that photo and the men who had been on that island. Many of them had been transported out there for the ceremony. I clearly remember Colonels and Generals escorting them to their seats.

  18. 18
    Fa Cube Itches growls and barks:

    harleycowboy @ #:

    Tears run from my eyes as I recognize the sacrifices you made. We are truly unworthy of you as we have allowed this country which you defedned with your lives to become what it is today.

    Of course, the same guys who defended the country in ’41-’45 often cheered the establishment of the welfare state before the war started, and then came home and enacted an awful lot of the stuff that is crippling us today. And the less said about an awful lot of their kids, the better.

    I can respect the “Greatest Generation” for their wartime sacrificies, but the modern deification of them is – to me at least – misplaced. They instituted an awful lot of statist garbage, too.

  19. 19
    LC Draco growls and barks:

    Iwo Jima was a bloody fight…as was a lot of the Pacific campaign.

    “They have all left us now, but their sacrifice is immortal. It will remain to inspire future generations to greatness for as long as the flag they raised 68 years ago continues to fly free.”

    DAMN RIGHT!!!!
    LC Draco recently posted..The new SOF: Special Operations FitnessMy Profile

  20. 20
    LC/IB PrimEviL growls and barks:

    The National Museum of the Marine Corps currently has the first flag raised on Iwo on display. It can be seen online
    in the WWII Gallery, using their Virtual Museum Tour.
    LC/IB PrimEviL recently posted..Public Service AnnoucementMy Profile

  21. 21

    single stack @ #:
    Another bit of trivia, the three men that Sgt. Stryker hands the flag to are Gagnon, Bradley and Hayes. My uncle met John Wayne on the set of “Sands of Iwo Jima” (He was a mechanic by then and was on loan from the Corps working on the tanks they were using) and he had been at Iwo as well. He said the the Duke held them all in awe for what they had done on that island. They in turn were awed by the Duke. John Wayne had a open invitation for any servicemen to come to his house in Santa Barbara anytime they wanted. Before Korea went hot my uncle spent many a weekend drinking beer and eating steak poolside with John Wayne.
    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. recently posted..February 23, 1945My Profile

  22. 22

    Here’s another bit of trivia for you. We’re all familiar with the statue at the Marine Corps War Memorial (often referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial) adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, which depicts the raising of the flag.

    Back in 1988, when I first started my FAA career, I was assigned to Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas. Immediately next to the airport is the Marine Military Academy, a private college prep school for grades 8-12, and to my knowledge, the only school of its type in existence which is endorsed by the Marine Corps and based on the traditions, values and ideals of the U.S. Marine Corps.

    The original plaster working model of the statue currently stands in Harlingen, Texas at the Marine Military Academy. The Academy is also the final resting place of Corporal Harlon Block, who was killed in action on Iwo Jima. I used to drive right past it on my way to work every day.

    I can’t claim to be a Marine, but I can say SEMPER FI!
    LC Sir M – Imperial Tobacconist™, K.o.E. recently posted..Houston Family Fights Back, Home Invader KilledMy Profile

  23. 23
    LC Xystus growls and barks:

    Looks as if I beat LC/IB PrimEviL, making the same point, by just a minute!

  24. 24
    Veeshir growls and barks:

    Man, this post really ticks me off.

    I just got the email about Lee Marvin and Capt. Kangaroo on Iwo Jima (both getting Navy Crosses, Marvin getting wounded), this one also said that Mr. Rogers worse long sleeves to hide the tattoos from his Navy Seal days.

    So before I commented on this post, I had to check to make sure that stuff was true.

    It’s not, and if you hadn’t written this post I would still believe it!

    Sonomabatch.
    Veeshir recently posted..A Ligion PostMy Profile

  25. 25
    single stack growls and barks:

    Veeshir @ #:

    Lee Marvin was a Marine Corps sniper in the Pacific campaign. He got shot in the butt on Saipan and was awarded a Purple Heart. He was released from duty on a medical discharge before Iwo Jima. He’s buried at Arlington.
    Bob Keeshan enlisted in the Marines just before the end of the war and never saw combat.
    Mister Rogers never served in the military. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

  26. 26
    NR Pax growls and barks:

    I have to be honest, I always loved the stories about Mr. Rogers being in the service (The version I heard was that he was an Army Ranger). Come on Rotties; think about it: The man being a closet badass was the whole reason his Neighborhood was peaceful.

  27. 27

    LC Sir M – Imperial Tobacconist™, K.o.E. @ #:
    When I was a young pup I wanted to go to MMA, but there was no way in hell factory working parents could have afforded it.
    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. recently posted..February 23, 1945My Profile

  28. 28
    LC Old Dog growls and barks:

    I really cannot comment on the The Pacific Theater as all my relatives in that dust up served in the ETO! Two of them were in the States moving from East to West when Japan gave it up!

    According to Dad that is probably the only reason I am here today. Until the day he died he never quit talking about those crazy Jarheads who took Iwo and it was all good believe me!

    I know personally a couple of Jarheads and give them crap, they respond with Shit about the “Lousy Pounder” in the room!

    We then toss for the next round! If the SHTF they are all (Local Ones at least) are committed to coming to my place for the duration!

    Yeah, my place is built like a fucking fort

    Simper Fi!
    LC Old Dog recently posted..The First Flag on SuribachiMy Profile

  29. 29
    LC Old Dog growls and barks:

    Whoops forgot to click the notify! But also forgot to mention one of my “Uncles” Southern for an older man who is drinking buddy with your Dad was on Iwo Jima!
    LC Old Dog recently posted..The First Flag on SuribachiMy Profile

  30. 30

    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. @ #27

    Be glad, Crunch. Given their record of 100% going on to college yada yada you’d have wound up an officer instead of working for a living!
    LC Sir M – Imperial Tobacconist™, K.o.E. recently posted..GOP lawmakers call on Obama, Holder to enforce gun lawsMy Profile