Gunny G’s….The Flag Raisings – Lest We Forget!
Of the two photos above, the one of the NYC firemen raising the flag at the site of the WTC after the 9/11 attack is now well known.
The other photo, however, is not so well known. That photo is one of the photos by Leatherneck magazine photographer, S/Sgt Lou Lowery, taken on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima on 23 February 1945, of the actual flag raising there at about 1020 on that morning.
Lowery had accompanied 1/Lt. Harold G. Schrier and his 40-man combat patrol (Easy Company, 2ndBn, 28th Marines), up the hill to raise our national colors; this was the first time in 2,000 years that a foreign flag had been raised on the Japanese homeland.
Later that same day, a larger, “replacement” flag was substituted for the original, and was photographed at that time by Joe Rosenthal; and it was that photo that soon became famous as The Iwo Jima Flag Raising.
The WTC Flag picture, above, has recently appeared many times displayed together with Rosenthal’s photo, but I have never seen it in combination with the genuine article by Lowery, therefore, I think that this combination of photos above is more appropriate, and each photo complements the other most fully. .
WHO RAISED THAT FLAG ON IWO JIMA?
(The following is from the book, Iwo Jima…, by Marling/Wetenhall) The answer may surprise even long-time Marines who think they know their Marine Corps history…)
“…on February 24 when Schrier was notified, “Request you designate one member group of flag raisers report aboard Eldorado (AGC 11) early morning 25 February.Purpose news broadcast.
Schrier sent his second in command of the original patrol–PltSgt Ernest Ivy “Boots” Thomas.
At 0430 the next morning, Thomas found himself aboard the ship in the presence of Admiral Turner and General Howlin’ Mad” Smith. He was then interviewed by Don Pryor of CBS, who, microphone in hand, introduced him as “a modest but tough 20-year old fighting man from Tallahassee,” leader of the Marine platoon that captured Suribachi, “the first American in history who has ever raised Old Glory over a part of the Japanese Empire.”
A stunned pause. “No, Mr. Pryor,” Thomas interjected, “I don’t want to give that impression. The honor belongs to every man in my platoon. Three of us actually raised the flag–Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier, our company executive officer, Sergeant H.O. Hansen of Boston, and myself. But the rest of the men had just as big a part in it as we did.”
Thomas continued to point out that although he felt “mighty proud,” he did not consider himself a hero, or that he had done anything that the others hadn’t also done.”
(PltSgt Thomas, speaking to the media and Navy/Marine Corps top brass just a couple days after the flag raising on Iwo Jima!)
THE VANDEGRIFT REVELATIONS
The following is from Tedd Thomey’s Immortal Images, A Personal History of Two Photographers and the Flag Raising On Iwo Jima, Naval Institute Press, 1996 “
The Vandegrift revelations surfaced in a book about Iwo Jima published in the spring of 1995. Albee and Freeman present evidence that, over a period of 2 1/2 years, from early 1945 to September 1947, General Vandegrift laid down a policy that suppressed issuance or recognitionof any of the Marine Corps’ Iwo Jima photography that might have diminished the uniqueness of the Rosenhtal classic.1″ “
…The man most affected by this policy was Sgt Lou Lowery, the Leatherneck magazine photographer who had shot the photo of the first flag raising. Genaust was also affected because the commandant’s office used the policy to reject all efforts to honor the sergeant posthumously for his motion picture achievement…” “
…Vandegrift decreed that Leatherneck could not publish any of the Suribachi photographs that Lowery shot on 23 February 1945, including the first flag raising. The decree remained in effect until late 1947, when the magazine came under increasing pressure–much of it from an angry Lowery himself–to publish his photos….” “…Albee and Freeman obtained some of their data on 28 December 1992 in interviews with former WO Norman T. Hatch, the 5th Divisionphoto section director….Hatch…received orders to leave Iwo Jima and report to the commandant in Washington….” “
…The commandants who served after Vandegrift let the Rosenthal photograph speak for itself and made no effort to censor the work of any of the other Suribachi photographers…”
1. Albee and Freeman, Shadow of Suribachi, 83–90