On February 23, 1945, Joe Rosenthal captured the iconic photo of a group of Marines raising the United States flag over Mount Suribachi in World War II.
On February 23, 1945, a group of Marines nailed the United States flag over Mount Suribachi. The Battle of Iwo Jima is nearing completion, thanks to the offensive on the promontory.
Joe Rosenthal, a 33-year-old AP photographer, captures the image. He was one of three reporters who did it, between photos and videos. It was one more action in the war in the Pacific.
However, this image was consolidated in the American imagination as a symbol of the sacrifice of millions of soldiers. In the Battle of Iwo Jima alone, more than 6,800 Americans and almost 19,000 Japanese died. We remember its history and its protagonists.
Rosenthal’s photo did not belong to the original group
The most important piece of information, without a doubt, is that this was not the first flag nailed to the Suribachi. Previously another group had raised one, but the Secretary of Defense sent it down, to take it to his superiors as a souvenir.
That one was smaller. They resolved to send another group with a larger flag.
The handful of Marines, from the Fifth Division, consisted of Corporals Harlon Block, Harold P. Keller, and Sergeant Michael Strank. Also by Private First Class Ira Hayes, Harold Schultz and Franklin Sousley.
Of the group, Block, Strank and Sousley would die that same year, during the conflict. Hayes, an American native, died forgotten and drunk in 1955. Keller did it in 1979, while Schultz was the one who lasted the longest: his death occurred in 1995.
Rosenthal died at 94, in 2006. Thanks to the famous image he won a Pulitzer Prize.
A Chilean was part of the first group on Mount Suribachi
When the first group to raise the flag saw the second rise to fame, there was widespread complaint. As a curious thing, in that initial group there was a South American: the Chilean Edgar Romero Rojas.
Romero Rojas spoke at the time with The Mercury about experience in war.
« That (photo) is fiction taken by Joe Rosenthal, » said Romero Rojas. “It took them a week to make it as we know it today. In the real one we appear several Latinos. I am the second to lift the rifle from the left ”.
“People talk about war without thinking, but a battle is the worst thing in the world. I would like to see those people react to a body being burned by a flamethrower. I don’t give the war to anyone ”, reflected the former soldier.