On February 23, 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima a flag was raised, a photo taken, and history was made. Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image became the most famous photograph of all time and enshrined the Marine Corps in the pantheon of the worlds elite forces.
But that flag raising was almost inconsequential to the Marines fighting on “Sulfur Island”. You see, it was the second flag to go up atop Mt. Suribachi that day and went totally unnoticed by the grunts at it’s base. It had been ordered up to replace the actual first flag that went up, the one that had caused a cacophony of yelps and howls and ships claxons.
“…Marines on the ground, still engaged in combat, raised a spontaneous yell when they saw the flag. Screaming and cheering so loud and so prolonged that we could hear it quite clearly on top of Suribachi….”
When a platoon from E Company 2nd Bn, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division was ordered to reconnoiter to the top of the mountain, the Platoon Leader, Lt.Shrier, had been given a flag that had flown on a US Navy ship just over three years earlier at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. They made it to the top and raised the flag, signifying to the rest of the Marines that the vital observation post that had allowed the Jap defenders to see their every move was now in US hands.
The words I quoted above are from PFC Raymond Jacobs. He was the radio man on that patrol, and one of the first flag raisers. That is him standing to the right of the flag in the above picture, with the radio on his back. PFC Jacobs passed away today. He was 83 years old.
“And when he gets to Heaven, to St. Peter he will tell, ‘Another Marine reporting Sir! I served my time in Hell’.”
Requiescat in Pacem