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Rosenthal Suribachi Photo: Who Was It Really?

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by KodiakBeer, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    von Poop likes this.
  2. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I thought that Clint Eastwood settled this.
     
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  3. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    That is quite an interesting read and clearly some people put alot of time and effort tryign to attain the truth. it would be hard to try and change the accepted truth, especially what these men went through after returning to the US and the history that they told their kids, they coudl be branded liers for eternity. But on the other hand what about the man that was in the picture and never got the glory he deserved. The evidence provided certainly is compeling and does open up the possibility they got it wrong but seeing how far these men were going selling war bonds just asked them to keep it going, maybe telling them do it for the war. Unfornately history is full of lies. Very interesting nonetheless.
     
  4. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Every time I read something about this I think about Ira Hays, even though his place in the flag raising was never questioned.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjTHxf8l7Qc
     
  5. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Read the article if you haven't already, the case certainly is compelling.
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I don't think any of that mattered to the Marines who were there. I certainly don't think any of them were lying. It was just another day in a long series of exhausting deadly days. They didn't remember who was standing next to them or attach any real significance to what they were doing. After all, this was the replacement flag for the smaller flag that had been hoisted earlier that morning.

    A week or two later a media frenzy descended and for them to remember what exactly they did or who was with them at that moment... Impossible.
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    This is the conclusion that was reached.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Vs the original identified line up.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    So what if Schultz let Bradley go home in his place? It was his decision, none of them sought recognition. Leave the issue alone as it was made by better men than us.
     
  10. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    As much as I care for the accuracy of historical information, I completely agree with you. Let it be.
     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I honestly don't think the Marines that were there remembered much about it. It was just one little task among many in weeks of intense combat.
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think that's fascinating.

    Of course it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but what's history worth if we miss the details and dismiss these little questions or revisions out of hand.

    If nothing else, it's fascinating for purely historiographical reasons, and considering how stories are built in the naturally flawed arena of human memory, alongside all of the interesting reasons why a man might be disinterested, or just modest, about his place in such a well-known icon.

    Nothing wrong with looking at details and possibilities. Nothing at all.
     
  13. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Succinct!
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I knew a Marine that was offered the oppertunity to be in the first flag raising. He turned it down saying something to the effect of "I'm no Hollywood Marine". I woldn't be surprised if one of those who helped with the second felt the same way. I don't think any of them were there to "take credit" for something like the flag raising or thought that having a hand in raising it was that big of deal. Indeed from what I've read Rosenthal thought his photo was a rather poor one in particular because it was difficult to identify any Marine for sure. That may on the other hand be the reason it became so iconic. They weren't recognizeable individuals but they clearly were Marines.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    That has often been stated as one of the reasons the photo was so iconic, because the Marines in the picture are faceless and unidentifiable. As for Sousley, he has always been identified as one of the flag raisers. I believe they are correct that his position during the flag raising has been mis-identified, the evidence presented supports this. However, as to Shultz being a flag raiser and Bradley not, I do not think their speculation and the "loose helmet liner strap" as their evidence is sufficient to overturn what has been accepted for 70 years.

    [​IMG]

    This is the first (smaller flag) flag raising. Customarily, the Marines in the picture have been identified as: Left to right: 1Lt. Harold Schrier (crouched behind radioman's legs), Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (radioman assigned from F Company), Sgt. Henry "Hank" Hansen (cloth cap, securing flag pipe with left hand), Platoon Sgt. Ernest "Boots" Thomas (seated), Pvt. Phil Ward (helmeted, securing flag pipe with both hands), PhM2c John Bradley, USN (helmeted, securing the flag pipe with right hand, standing above Pvt. Ward), Pfc. James Michels (holding Carbine rifle), and Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg (standing above Michels).

    [​IMG]

    This is a second view, note the different flag position, Hansen's head, Bradley's hands, and two additional Marines one who's head shows at the extreme left and one standing behind Lindberg.

    [​IMG]
    Here's an additional uncropped view that shows an additional Marine seated below Jacobs and Hansen.
    The Jacobs identification was disputed for years, but is now generally accepted. Consider, this is not the famous raising but the Marines that were there even wanted to correct this one.

    There is also controversy over who provided the second larger flag. Lieutenant Albert Theodore Tuttle, states he got the second, larger flag, on orders from the battalion commander Chandler Johnson. He states he got it from the LST-779 from Navy Ensign Alan Wood. The Coast Guard has since claimed that they provided the flag. In 2001, Coast Guardsman Quartermaster Robert Resnick claimed it was he that gave Gagnon the flag from LST-758. His claim has some support from statements made by battalion adjutant, Lt. G. Greeley Wells to the New York Times in 1991. The Easy Company commander, Capt. Severance has always maintained that Wood and the LST-779 provided the flag. Because the event was so iconic there are many that are willing to revise history to associate themselves with it.

    The best evidence that Bradley was a raiser of the second flag is found in the Block/Hansen misidentification story. Gagnon initially had misidentified Harlon Block as Sergeant Henry O. "Hank" Hansen. He refused to identify the sixth Marine (Hayes) because Hayes had threatened to kill him if he did. Bradley concurred with Gagnon's identification. HQ Marine Corps had to threaten Gagnon with jail to get him to reveal Hayes' name because the President himself had demanded it. If Bradley was not a flag raiser, would not himself or Gagnon have revealed as much at this time? Four of the flag raisers had been on a wire laying detail just prior to the second raising. Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon H. Block, Private First Class Franklin R. Sousley, and Private First Class Ira H. Hayes were all four from the Second Platoon, Easy Company and had been on the wire detail. When Hayes first saw the photo he picked up on the Block/Hansen mix-up because Hansen had not been with them on the detail. He correctly identified Block as the Marine, and when he brought the issue up he was told, by officers attached to the War Bond tour, to remain quiet about it. He later got drunk and went to Texas to make things right with Block's family. Bradley wrote in his book, "Flags of Our Fathers"; "Ira remembered what Rene Gagnon and John Bradley could not have remembered, because they did not join the little cluster until the last moment: that it was Harlon [Block], Mike [Strank], Franklin [Sousley] and [Hayes] who had ascended Suribachi midmorning to lay telephone wire; it was Rene [Gagnon] who had come along with the replacement flag. Hansen had not been part of this action."
    After hearing from Hayes, Block's family through Congressional representatives forced the Marine Corps to initiate an official investigation. They determined that Block was the sixth flag raiser and corrected the information. Hayes was a flag raiser, if Bradley had not been one would not Hayes have said so? Would not an investigation into the identities, have caused Bradley or Gagnon to reveal that Bradley was not a flag raiser if that were the truth?

    Finally, we get to the photo that has come to be called, "The Gung Ho" photo. There have over the years been a number of older veterans claim that they were in the photo. While there were still survivors, the last being Charles Lindberg, they were often questioned about the identities of those present that day. They verified or debunked, but never denied Bradley was one of the second flag raisers (he helped raise the first flag also). Some have mentioned that the Marines involved would not have remembered being involved in a detail to raise the flag, I disagree. They would have known if they were one of the men tasked with raising the flags. Hayes remembered being on a wire detail prior to the raising. The surviving members of the patrol have constantly provided identities to other Marines present. If someone had been standing next to Bradley and watching when the second flag was raised, he more than likely would have said so.
     
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  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Jim never mentioned who was in the picture when I was around. I think he said he was off to the right (out of picture) in one or both of the above pictures of the first flag raising. Given how close people would be in a platton I would think they would remember the identities of the flag raisers and may even have kidded them a bit about it especially the part about getting their pictures taken. I'd certainly accept the words of any who were there over anything but an iron clad argument against and even then I'd have a doubt I suspect.
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    There's more to it than that. The man identified as Bradley is wearing different gear on his belt (carbine mags and a wire cutter), items that Schultz has in other pix and not items a Corpsman would normally carry. Then there's the cap under the helmet and the cuffed pants. None of these details are proof by themselves, but when you add them all up it makes a weighty argument. And don't forget, there is no honor or dishonor in being in or out of the photo. All of those men were there on Suribachi that day.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    If you carefully read the article you posted, you would know that it is Sousley not Schultz that they are saying is the flag raiser currently identified as Bradley.

    From the article you posted: "Foley believes the man long identified as Bradley is actually Pfc. Franklin Sousley."

    That point I agree with and stated so. Sousley has always been identified as one of the flag raisers. I can see his position amongst the flag raisers being mis-identified.

    I posted:

    They are placing Schultz in the position formerly identified as Sousley. I personally think it more likely to be Strank and the obscured figure identified as Strank was Bradley. I find it unlikely in the extreme, that either Gagnon, Hayes, Bradley or any of the other surviving members of the patrol would not have voiced doubt about Bradley having been a flag raiser if he had not been. There are too many examples of them debating the identities of other Marines not clearly identifiable in the pictures. If there were any doubt one of those that had been there would have, eventually said so.
     
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    There is the consideration that a photograph takes c.1/200-1/30 of a second to make.
    A fraction of a second in weeks of hard fighting & surviving in the open.
    I wouldn't be even slightly surprised if people didn't remember precisely who was where. Particularly as the shot became iconic a while after the event.

    I stare at family pictures, and ones with old mates in, & often have trouble remembering who's who, and I didn't have being shot & shelled, living on Spam, dysentery, beri-beri and sleeping in a wet ditch as a distraction.
    I can also remember Granny & Grandad arguing about who was who in old Army photos, and they lived among those faces for decades. Such errors seem within the normal human range to me.
     
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  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yet, both Gagnon and Bradley misidentified Harlon Block as Hansen. See what I mean? Remember, these men probably hadn't slept more than catnaps in the previous days and were involved in extremely tough combat with heavy losses. They went on like that for some weeks before anyone asked them about this photo. Of course they'd have trouble remembering who was there or where other people were standing, etc.

    Perfectly plausible.
     

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