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Famous Flags: US flags

Last modified: 2014-12-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: iwo jima | star-spangled banner | bennington flag | don't give up the ship | pearl harbor |
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Raising the US Flag on Iwo Jima

In high school a friend of mine told me that his father raised the flag on Iwo Jima. I thought he was pulling my leg but went along with the gag. Which guy in the statue is he? I asked. No, he replied the statue was the second raising. Dad put up the first. I continued to think he was just spinning a yarn until a few years later during the 25th anniversary of the raising the local TV stations interviewed a "local man who raised the flag on Iwo Jima" It was my friends father! OK, I thought, he wasn't pulling my leg after all.

Here's the scoop. The first flag raised was just a small flag one of the Marines was carrying (probably about 5 feet in length). This act was photographed (which is how Mr. Lindberg, my friend's father, is able to verify his claim). Later the Marines sent the famous group up to raise a larger flag. It was the second raising, but not for the express purpose of taking the picture.
Nathan Bliss, 01 August 1996

BOTH Iwo Jima flags are in the US Marine Corps museum at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, DC. The smaller one is the one first raised.
Nick Artimovich, 10 December 1997

The US Marine Corps War Memorial webpage identifies the flag raisers as Michael Strank, Harlan H. Block, Franklin R. Sousley, Rene A. Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John H. Bradley. BTW, the tragic life of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who succumbed to alcoholism, is told in "The Ballad of Ira Hayes", recorded by both Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, among others. Ned Smith, 20 February 2000

Both of the Iwo Jima Flags raised in Feb. of 1945 by the Easy Co of the 28th Marine Rgt. are in the USMC. Museum Washington Navy Yard. They were both recently conserved by the noted textile conservator Fonda Thompson.

The story that only the 1st flag survived seems to stem form the recent book Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley. He states that the second flag was ripped to shreds, In fact the second flag's fly end was shredded, but the flag survives.
James Ferrigan, 17 July 2000

The sizes are:
First Flag raised was an ensign from the USS Missoula measuring 28" x 54" .
The Second flag was an ensign from the LST-779 measuring 56"x 96".
Also see which is perhaps the definitive website on the flag raising.
Jim Ferrigan, 24 July 2002

There is an article in Spanish taken from the Colombian Navy official website that tells the story about the controversy in which there were actually two pictures of the same event, one taken by Sergeant Low Lowery and the other by photographer Joe Rosenthal in which Rosenthal's shot came out better because of angle and flag size, so Lowry's picture was "no longer needed".

Charles Lindberg (not the aviator) lives in Minneapolis about 80 miles from here. He was at the raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima during the battle. Here is part of the story excerpted from a special education edition of the American Legion magazine Sept, 2002, made possible by American Legion Post 12 of Long Prairie, Minnesota (where the 1st flag raising of Iwo Jima is depicted in 4 story memorial), written by Rodger Johnston.

By the end of D+3, Mount Suribachi was surrounded by Marines dying by the thousands with even more being wounded. Colonel Johnson handed a select group of Marines an American flag from the USS Missoula and said, 'If you get to the top, raise the flag'. The expectation was the enemy dug deep into the mountain would slaughter the Marines.

At 10:20am, the American flag was tied to a Japanese water pipe and raised by Marines Charles Lindberg, Harold Schrier, Boots Thomas, and Hank Hanson. Louis Carlo, James Michaels and Raymond Jacobs together with a detachment of other Marines were on hand. Lou Lowery, a leatherneck photographer, clicked his camera as ship offshore and men below sounded off a cheer that transformed the island into New Year's eve.

Aroused by the outpouring of excitement, Japanese emerged from their tunnels and the flag raisers came under heavy fire. When the battle ended, the flag remained.

When the Secretary of the Navy heard all the commotion he was advised that the Marines had raised the American flag on Japanese homeland for the first time in over 2,000 years. He immediately ordered that this most momentous flag be delivered to him.

Col. Johnson responded that his men had died by the thousands and that the flag would not be transferred out of his battalion. The Secretary of the Navy then ordered photographers and a detachment of Marines to climb the mountain to remove the flag and replace it with a second American flag. Joe Rosenthal took a photo of the second flag raising by Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, Mike Strank, Rene Gagnon and Harlon Block.

The photos of the first flag raising taken by Lou Lowery were not developed until after the war. Before Lou died, he bequeathed all the photos to Charles Lindberg, the last surviving flag raiser. Fifty-seven years after the flag raising, Charles Lindberg's dream that someday the First Flag Raisers of Iwo Jima would be honored became reality.

In addition, a never before seen photo of the actual first flag raising was re-created from the photos of Lou Lowery under the direction of flag raiser, Charles Lindberg. The picture clearly and accurately reveals the faces, bodies and ground of the first flag raising that instantly became an inspiration to the combatants on Iwo Jima.

Lee Herold, 25 September 2006

Joe Rosenthal died on Sunday 20 August 2006 at the age of 94 in Novato, California.
Ivan Sache, 26 September 2006

The status of the island of Iwo Jima as part of the "Hoime islands" not withstanding; the first US flags raised or hoisted over pre-war Japanese territory and "home waters", occurred some months before at the Kwajalein Atoll. At sea, it was when the USS Phelps dropped anchor; ashore it was a flag raised by the 4th Division, 25 Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Jim Ferrigan, 26 September 2006

"Don't Give Up The Ship" of Oliver Hazard Perry (War of 1812)

"Dont Give Up The Ship" flag of Oliver Hazard Perry (War of 1812) and Matthew Perry's flag used to open Japan to the west (among lots of other flags) are at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Nick Artimovich, 10 December 1997

U.S. Capitol Flag during the Pearl Harbor attack

The U.S. flag that flew over the Capitol during attack on Pearl Harbor, then flown in Berlin and Tokyo at the end of the war, is in the H.S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.
Nick Artimovich, 10 December 1997