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