R.W. “Dick” GainesGnySgt USMC (Ret.)1952-72
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Who Raised The Flag At Iwo Jima?
THE FLAG-RAISING AT IWO JIMA!!!
Morning, 1020, on 23 February 1945, Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, our national colors raised for the first time ever over the Japanese Empire!The combat patrol of 40-men of Easy Company 2/28, 5th Marine Division, led by 1/Lt Harold G. Schrier USMC.
See Gunny G’s sites & forums for the story of Sgt Ray Jacobs, USMC (Ret.), who for 57 years went unrecognized as the radioman in Sgt Lou Lowery’s series of photos of the actual flagraising on Iwo Jima (not the “replacement” flag photo shot by Joe Rosenthal later that same day to become almost instantly famous).
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 REVELATIONSThe 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, 83–90Dick Gaines GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952(Plt #437)-’72And there is a photo of a letter from Lou Lowery to Ray Jacobs, on Leatherneck letterhead stationery, dated September, 1947. (above) It reads as follows.
“Dear Raymond: I am always very glad to hear from any of the Marines who were on the original flag raising. You fellows did all the dirty work and the ones who were on Rosenthal’s picture got all the credit. Up until the September issue my pictures and the correct story of the flag raising have been held in secret because the flag shot of Rosenthal’s, although a phony, was a great picture and did much to publicize the Marine Corps.
It is a darn shame that the men who actually were on…..