A Corpsman’s story on Iwo Jima

Many have seen a picture or the monument that depicts the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, but not many have heard what happened after that first, non-staged flag was raised amid Japanese territory.

Lt.Col. Chaney Johnson and Capt. Dave Severance gave the small flag to 1stLt. Harold Schrier and ordered him to take a 40-man assault patrol to the summit, secure the crater and raise the flag, as an earlier patrol had reached the summit without being fired upon.

Iwo Jima wounded w/ corpsmen

Schrier’s patrol included a radioman, 2 teams of stretcher-bearers and SSgt. Lou Lowery of Leatherneck Magazine bringing up the rear, photographing every step of the way.  Marines below watched as the patrol moved forward in a difficult climb, slowly moving up the side of the mountain, sometimes crawling on hands and knees.  Upon reaching the rim, they crawled over the edge, one man at a time.

Fanning out in the rim with minor enemy activity in the cave openings, a long piece of pipe was soon found and taken taken to a spot chosen by Lt. Shrier.  The flag was attached to the pole and Lowery snapped the picture of the first flag raising at 10:10 A.M. on 23 February 1945.

Original flag picture signed by SSgt. Lou Lowery, Leatherneck Mag.

The 6 men present as the flag pole was planted were: Sgt. ‘Boots’ Thomas; Sgt. Henry Hansen; Cpl. Charles Lindberg (Raider); Lt. Harold Shrier (Raider), Pfc James Michaels and Pvt. Louis Charlo.  As it came into view, the tired and dirt Marines below cheered loudly and a chorus of bells, whistles and foghorns emanated from the ships in the harbor.

At the same time, all hell broke loose in the crater as the Japanese saw the flag flying.  Enraged by the sight of the flag, grenades came flying and shots rang out from the caves with one shot just missing Lowery, who tumbled almost 50 feet down the side of the mountain before grabbing a bush to save himself and his camera.

A Japanese officer, carrying a sword then charged the group.  The other members of the patrol quickly killed him and charged the caves firing machine guns and flames throwers while tossing demolition charges to seal them off.  When the area was secured, the platoon started back down the mountain  only to meet another group coming up.

Mt. Surabichi climb

Col. Johnson had the thought that someone would want the flag as a souvenir and ordered a larger flag to be found.  It was retrieved from LST-779 and given to 2nd battalion Runner Pfc Rene Gagnon to take to the top.  And so – the more famous picture was taken by Photographer Joseph Rosenthal of the Associated Press.

Story is from “REAL BLOOD!  REAL GUTS!: U.S. Marine Raiders and their CORPSMEN in World War II” by James Gleason.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

As many of you have certainly heard already, the wreck of the USS Juneau has recently been located.  I’m sure the name must sound very familiar to you – the ship that carried down the five Sullivan brothers.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/article/explorers-discover-the-wreck-of-the-uss-juneau/ar-BBKwToF

 

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Human Interest Story –

Chesty XIV meets Chesty XV at Barracks Washington

Chesty XV, USMC mascot

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/03/19/meet-chesty-xv-the-new-marine-corps-mascot/

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jean Bowen – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Irene Cason – Mosinee, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Bill Dingwall – Woodstock, GA; US Army, WWII

Alan Falk – New Bedford, MA; US Army, Captain

Lewis Gilbert – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Air Force film crew

Clifford Hunt – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps, Psychologist

Charles Jackson – Parrish, FL; 187th RCT, Vietnam, Sgt. Major, Bronze Star

Florence ‘Shutsy’ Reynolds – Connellsville, PA; US Army Air Corps WASP, WWII, pilot

James Studebaker – Lucerne, MO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Phillip Wendell – Sioux City, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT boats

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 22, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 128 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I didn’t realize the raising of the flag was a real event. I’ve always thought it was simply the artist’s imagination.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was never fascinated by history,but not anymore.. This is super interesting!
    Visit my blog Sir charusneha.WordPress.com it would be an honour.
    My latest story https://charusneha.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/84/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your like of my post; you are very kind. Please know how much of a blessing you are.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Excellent post, GP, and very timely one for me. My son Thomas is finishing up an AA degree at the local community college and giving serious consideration to what will come next in his life. Thomas’ middle name is George in honor of my father and Thomas is wildly interested in his grandfather’s career on the PT boats of WWII. Lately, he has been talking more frequently about becoming a corpsman in the Navy and I think that would be a wonderful career option for him. Thomas has a special fascination for the history of the corpsmen who did such valiant work on Iwo Jima, so I showed him your piece and he loved it. Thanks for your continued good work! It is a fine service for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m honored to ‘know’ another man to show such interest in such an respected career. We will soon be gaining a corpsman into our family as well. My better-half’s niece is engaged to one who has recently gone into training with the SEAL special ops. I wish your son all the very best in his future ambitions!! Thank you for coming by and telling me.

      Like

  5. Thanks for being a friend and following my blog; you are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Prachtig en goed dat de brieven bewaard zijn gebleven

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ja, precies, Mary Lou. Het is een manier om verschillende visies op dezelfde insident te krijgen en een volledig beeld te krijgen. Ik waardeer het dat je de tijd hebt genomen om het te lezen.

      Like

  7. As my uncles ship the USS Hinsdale was off shore I can only hope he saw its raising.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The USS Hinsdale acted as a transport to deliver Marines to the beaches and then remained to act as a hospital ship for the following week – so I could safely say he most likely did see the raising of the flag. You must be very proud of your father.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This story always intrigues me gp, something is missing or incorrectly recorded, have a look at this link and let me know what you think.
    The Ballad of Ira Hayes – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_Ira_Hayes
    “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” is a song written by folk singer Peter La Farge. Its words tell the story of Ira Hayes, one of the six Marines and one who became famous for having raised the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top ..

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are correct. The song is very misleading. It sounds like a product of Hollywood. (why I never did like the song) In trying to sound like the old ballads, they did a disservice to a man sent up a mountain as part of a patrol and was chosen to pose for a picture. He came home a hero, received tons of fan mail from admirers, helped correct the Bradley/Shultz identity mishap, but being uncomfortable with his fame, a very modest man, he became an alcoholic. There are questions as to the actual cause of his death, but being as no autopsy was done, we’ll never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Give Me Liberty and commented:
    The unsung hero’s in combat

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing story of TWO flags. The first one has been lost as the picture of the second is all we have seen.Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The effect is all in the telling, and you do it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing another great story of guts and glory and heroism.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Fascinating story, G. It was interesting to learn the details! –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I had no idea about this, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I did know this story – would that the original had been the chosen one

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is the sort of history I expect from you, and it is always worth a stop by your blog to fill in the little and unknown pieces. Nicely done. GP! This blog is a treasure!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Chesty XV is ready for action !

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The ‘famous’ one always looked a bit staged to me, I must admit I much prefer the real photo and in truth I think thats the one that should be promoted; Thanks for bringing it to us GP, I’ve never seen it before. A faid dinkum photo this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Super story, very grateful to you for posting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. (Me again! :P)
    Just by chance, have you ever heard about a Private or Corporal Robert (Lee) Salzman? He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Keep up the amazing work you do! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I recently received an email titled “The thirteen hands” about the men who raised the flag in this famous incident. It gave a short bio of each man and said the artist put a 13th hand representing the hand of God. I also love the pic of Chesty! 😻

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I never knew the real story! Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. A great story! Thanks a lot for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Thank you, GP. Super story.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Excellent. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Maureen Christopher

    And….additionally, the heroic work of the Navy Flight Nurses! 23 year old women, who landed with 1 corpsman, and a Pilot and co-pilot after an 8 hour flight from Guam. These brave women. VRE-1. Numbering only approximately 120 flight nurses or less, who evacuated these Iwo Jima wounded to Guam and other islands, after one hour of touchdown on Iwo Jima and Okinawa battlefields. They became our Moms and never spoke of the horrors of that scene! Imagine! Angels of Mercy. God bless them all. Mom is almost 97 now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Please give your mom a hug for me and all my thanks! That is exactly the stamina and upstanding character that made them the Greatest Generation!! They’ll never be another bunch like them!!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. It is obvious that the true heroes are the ones who raised the first flag.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. A firefight over a flag . . . goes to show it’s all about the symbolism. But I believe that war is just politics gone to the extreme.

    But I can imagine what a morale-booster that must have been for our troops, to see that first flag rise up atop that mountain.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. The original flag planting is all the more worthy for being done under fire. Thank You

    Liked by 3 people

  31. I knew there was a flag raised before the one we know, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a photo of it (unless you had an earlier one here). What a great photo.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I never knew the details of the story. I have read about the raising moment, but none of the actual back story, this is your gift you enable me/us to get a fuller picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. A fascinating piece of history. I also loved the video of the mascot in training.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I did not know about the first flag raised there. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Hi GP I’ve been watching the HBO miniseries the Pacific about WWII in the Pacific. I think it’s really good. I didn’t know much about that part of the war; I knew more about the European side of it, because I grew up in Germany. I imagine you’ve seen the series?

    Thank you for your great blog- I posted your link on our FB- maybe you will get more traffic.

    Coincidentally, we (museum) came into a samurai sword pulled off the battlefield in Iwo Jima.it came home with a service man and it spent much of its time in his attic—and we got it last year.

    Circe Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, Director Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know the series and have the book about it. I find they side with the Marines as being the ones that won the war, so it’s a little one-sided. But it’s a good start to learning about the movement through the vast ocean.
      Thank you for posting it on FB, I hope readers there will find it interesting.
      Congrats on your acquisition of the sword. My father had come home with 2 swords, but they were stolen about 30 years ago.

      Like

  36. A fascinating account of a lesser known story. No less memorable though.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Good to read about what happened after the first flag raising. Lucky for Lou Lowery to save himself and his camera otherwise we might not see the first flag. Thanks for the link about USS Juneau and the Sullivan Brothers. I saw an old movie about them and it was so heartbreaking to lose all five of them at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Always interesting to read first-hand accounts of famous scenes from history. It is never quite how it seems in the magazines or headlines, is it?
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. What an amazing shot – the original flag raising. In every sense a snatched moment in time.

    Liked by 5 people

  40. Thank you for honoring the men responsible for raising the first flag at Iwo Jima.

    Liked by 4 people

  41. wow – thanks for the backstory on this “non-staged flag” – the next time this come up in my social circle I will be sure to add some tidbits learned – like how “all hell broke loose in the crater as the Japanese saw the flag flying. ”
    had no idea….

    Liked by 3 people

  42. I remember watching the movie about the Sullivan lads when I was very young ( big B &W fan). It resonated because Australia its own true story about five Sullivan brothers, written by Patricia Shaw, although they each went to different Theatres of war, and all came home. Totally unaware of the Sullivan Museum – fascinating stuff. As is Iwo Jima.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. That was really interesting. Thanks so much for sharing this important piece of history

    Liked by 3 people

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