Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

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Second world war

US soldier in Iwo Jima photograph misidentified, marines say

Investigators concluded that all six men in famous second world war photo were marines after comparing two flag-raising photos taken atop Mount Suribachi

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Marines raise the American flag atop Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima







John Bradley was misidentified in the Iwo Jima photograph; it was actually a marine named Harold Schultz, investigators concluded.
Photograph: Joe Rosenthal/AP

One of the six men in the famous second world war photograph of American soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima was misidentified, the marine corps announced on Thursday.

The marines began an investigation earlier this year , after two history buffs, Eric Krelle of Omaha, Nebraska, and Stephen Foley from Wexford, Ireland, compared photos taken during two flag-raisings atop Mount Suribachi on the island in 1945.

The famous Iwo Jima photo was taken by an Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal, on 23 February 1945, during the 36-day battle between American and Japanese forces. He was unable to get the men’s names at the time.

After a 1946 investigation, they were identified as Harlon Block, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Michael Strank and John Bradley. Block, Sousley and Strank died at Iwo Jima, before the photo was distributed in the US. Some have since claimed that the photograph was staged, claims which the marines and Rosenthal denied.

Krelle and Foley compared the famous photograph to a picture taken of an earlier raising of a smaller flag. In doing so, they identified differences in what the men were wearing, their weapons and equipment, and determined that Bradley participated in the first flag-raising but not the second.

The marines review panel found that the man previously identified as Bradley, a navy pharmacist’s mate 2nd class, was actually Private First Class Harold Schultz. All six men in the famous picture were therefore marines.

Dezreen MacDowell, Schultz’s stepdaughter, told the New York Times he had only discussed his participation once, in passing during dinner.

“My mom was distracted and not listening and Harold said, ‘I was one of the flag raisers,’” MacDowell said. “I said, ‘My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero.’ He said, ‘No, I was a marine.’”

Schultz died in 1995, aged 70.

Krelle and Foley’s work was featured in the Omaha World-Herald and is being made into a Smithsonian documentary. The film’s researchers reached out to the marines.

Flags of Our Fathers, a bestselling book about the flag-raisers, was written by Bradley’s son James with Ron Powers. In 2006, it was turned into a Clint Eastwood-directed movie .

General Robert Neller , the marine commandant, said in a statement it was important to set the record straight but added that the photo was never about the individuals shown.

“Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame,” Neller said, “and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our corps what they did together and what they represent remains most important. That doesn’t change.”

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report
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  • Second world war

  • US military

  • Japan

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