The U.S. Marine Corps has concluded that a previously unknown Marine is in the iconic flag raising image taken atop Mt. Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
Researchers working on a Smithsonian Channel documentary about AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image approached the Marine Corps months ago to consider their theory that the identities of the flag raisers are incorrect.
The Marine Corps’ commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, formed a review panel to consider all available images, film, statements and previous investigations. That panel and the commandant came to the same conclusion: that one of the six men in the Rosenthal photograph was misidentified. The Marine Corps now believes Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley was not in the Rosenthal image, but was involved in the initial flag raising hours before the famous photo was taken. Based upon the evidence reviewed, another Marine, Private First Class Harold Schultz, from Detroit, Mich. was the sixth man caught in the frame of what is considered the most famous war photograph.
“Our history is important to us, and we have a responsibility to ensure it’s right,” said Neller.
“Although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it’s not about the individuals and never has been,” according to Neller. “Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, 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 Marine Corps’ review panel was led by a retired general officer, Jan Huly, and consisted of both active duty and retired Marines, as well as two military historians. They reviewed the material beginning in late April and recently presented their findings and recommendations to Neller for his decision.
Now the Marine Corps’ history will reflect the identities of the six flag raisers as:
Corporal Harlon Block, Private First Class Rene Gagnon, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Harold Schultz, Private First Class Franklin Sousley, and Sergeant Michael Strank.