Op-Ed

Leave IDs on iconic WWII photo alone

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, on Feb. 23, 1945. The Marine Corps announced in June that one of the six men long identified in the iconic World War II photograph is actually not in the image. A panel found that Private First Class Harold Schultz, of Detroit, is in the photo and that Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley isn’t. Bradley had participated in an earlier flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, the panel concluded.
U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, on Feb. 23, 1945. The Marine Corps announced in June that one of the six men long identified in the iconic World War II photograph is actually not in the image. A panel found that Private First Class Harold Schultz, of Detroit, is in the photo and that Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley isn’t. Bradley had participated in an earlier flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, the panel concluded. Associated Press

A recent Associated Press article on the famous Feb. 19, 1945, flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima in World War II stated that the Marine Corps, after an investigation, said Navy Corpsman John Bradley was not in the picture, after 70 years of stating that he was.

His son James Bradley, who wrote the remarkable book “Flags of Our Fathers,” which was later made into a movie, was convinced that his father must have been in the first flag-raising and confused the two. The famous picture was of the second raising to replace the first flag that a colonel decided was too small.

John Bradley, who died in 1994, never wanted all of the public’s praise heaped on him and the others as Iwo Jima heroes. If he was in the first flag-raising, which I don’t believe, why didn’t he set the record straight?

Since Fox Company raised the first flag and Easy Company, in which he was a medic, raised the second, I doubt that he was on the mountain when the first one went up.

Having written a book in 2014 about Franklin R. Sousley, a Fleming County native who was in the famous picture, I did a lot of research on the event. The first flag was to have been raised by Hank Hanson, Boots Thomas, Harold Schrier, Louis Clark, Jim Michaels and Chuck Lindberg. If Bradley was in the first group, who will have to be replaced to make room for him?

Ira Hayes, a Marine in the famous picture, named everyone in the second group. After the war, he hitchhiked from Arizona to Texas, some 1,300 miles, to relate to the Block family that it was their son, Harlan Block, at the base of the pole, instead of Hank Hanson, as first reported. Wouldn’t Hayes have corrected another misidentification as well?

Now it is being reported that Harold Schultz was in the famous picture instead of Bradley. Why didn’t Schultz, who died in 1995, 50 years after the event, come forward and relate the error?

As far as I am concerned, the famous photo stands as was and is with Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, Renee Gagnon, Mike Shrank and Harlan Block.

Donald R. Curtis of Nicholasville is an historian and genealogist.

  Comments