Marines say 2 men didn’t help raise 1st flag at Iwo Jima

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Scott McFetridge

Af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing they misiden­ti­fied some of the men shown in an iconic im­age rais­ing the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima dur­ing World War II, the Marines now say they were also mis­taken in list­ing the names of those who raised an ear­lier flag amid in­tense fight­ing on the Japanese is­land.

In a state­ment this week, the Marines said two men long thought to have par­tic- ipated in the first fla­grais­ing on Feb. 23, 1945, were nearby but didn’t ac­tu­ally help raise the flag. The ac­com­plish­ment gave hope to troops en­gaged in the long, bloody bat­tle on the is­land, though it has long been over­shad­owed by the sub­se­quent rais­ing of a larger flag.

The ac­knowl­edg­ment came two months af­ter the Marines an­nounced the misiden­ti­fi­ca­tion of one of the men who raised the sec­ond, larger flag at Iwo Jima. That flag-rais­ing was cap­tured by As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tog­ra­pher Joe Rosen­thal, whose im­age was dis­played on the front pages of news­pa­pers across the coun­try and de­picted in the Ma­rine Corps War Me­mo­rial in Ar­ling­ton, Va.

De­spite early con­fu­sion about who erected the flags dur­ing a week­s­long bat­tle with Japanese forces, the Marines had for decades con­sid­ered the mat­ter set­tled. How­ever, the is­sue arose again in Novem­ber 2014, when the Omaha World-Her­ald pub­lished a story about two am­a­teur his­tory buffs who ar­gued some of those who raised the sec­ond flag were misiden­ti­fied, lead­ing the Marines to in­ves­ti­gate both flag-rais­ings.

That in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that Navy Phar­ma­cist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley was in the first flag-rais­ing but not the sec­ond, as had long been thought. An­other man was de­ter­mined to have helped raise the sec­ond flag.

The Marines now say Pfc. Louis Charlo and Pfc. James Michels weren’t among the men who raised the first flag atop Mount Surib­achi. The Marines say that six other men han­dled that task but that Charlo and Michels were in­volved in the mis­sion to scale the 554-foot moun­tain.

Charlo was part of a re­con­nais­sance team that climbed the moun­tain, and he re­turned to the sum­mit to pro­vide se­cu­rity be­fore the sec­ond flag was raised, ac­cord­ing to the Marines.

Michels pro­vided se­cu­rity dur­ing the first fla­grais­ing and can be seen in pho­tos af­ter­ward.

Marines be­gan the Iwo Jima in­va­sion Feb. 19, 1945, and fought for 36 days be­fore tak­ing com­plete con­trol of the is­land.

Nearly 7,000 Marines were killed and 20,000 were wounded. Nearly all of the 18,000 Japanese sol­diers on Iwo Jima died in the fight­ing.

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