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

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


Nicole Puglise and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Enola Gay is a museum piece, unlike the nuclear arms Obama hoped to eradicate
Barack Obama began his presidency with the aim of ‘a world without nuclear weapons’ but for every step forward there have been at least as many back

Dan Roberts in Dulles, Virginia

10, May, 2016 @7:42 PM

Article image
US to move marines out of Japan

9,000 of the military contingent that is upsetting residents on the island of Okinawa will move to other parts of Asia Pacific region

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

27, Apr, 2012 @8:03 AM

Article image
The Japanese hunger striker demanding an end to US bases in Okinawa
As island prepares to mark 50 years since Okinawa was returned to Japanese sovereignty, Jinshiro Motoyama is in no mood to celebrate

Justin McCurry Tokyo

14, May, 2022 @12:00 AM

Article image
Pearl Harbor’s role in the fall of the British empire | Letters
Letters: The reason the US fleet was attacked by the Japanese was to prevent its warships and aircraft from coming to the aid of Singapore


29, Dec, 2016 @6:26 PM

US marines in Japan face court martial for rape

The US military is to court martial four marines who allegedly gang-raped a Japanese woman last year, in an apparent attempt to defuse anger over a string of crimes committed by American servicemen

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

06, Mar, 2008 @12:15 PM

Change of name for Iwo Jima
The Japanese island of Iwo Jima has been renamed, 62 years after it became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the second world war.

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

21, Jun, 2007 @10:59 PM

Article image
US imposes rules on marines in Japan after alleged rape

Military extends restrictions on troops stationed in Okinawa following uproar over the arrest of a US marine accused of raping 14-year-old girl

Angela Balakrishnan and agencies

20, Feb, 2008 @11:17 AM

Article image
'A different command': how George HW Bush's war shaped his work for peace
Before he was president, Bush was a young naval flier who survived being shot down. The experience stayed with him for life

John S Gardner

02, Dec, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Japan announces new name for Iwo Jima
The Japanese island of Iwo Jima has been renamed Iwo To, 60 years after it became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the second world war.

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

20, Jun, 2007 @12:58 PM

Article image
Japan ends search for five US marines missing after mid-air crash
Men declared dead almost a week after fighter jet and tanker plane collided over Pacific

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

11, Dec, 2018 @6:20 AM