An amateur historian from County Wexford and his friend in Omaha, NE believe they have proven that one of the men identified in the iconic photo, "Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima," is not who the Marine Corps said he is.
"Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" is the most widely printed image from World War II. Iwo Jima is an island 660 miles south of Tokyo and was the site of a 36-day battle between about 70,000 Marines and 18,000 Japanese soldiers. The photo depicts United States Marines and a United States Navy hospital corpsman, or so people thought, raising a US flag.
In the summer of 2013 Stephen Foley, from County Wexford, an employee at a building supply company, had noticed the discrepancies in the picture while he was laid up recovering from a hernia operation. He turned to Eric Krelle, in Omaha, for help. Krelle runs a website dedicated to the Marines’ 5th Division.
Have studied footage and other photographs of the men taken on that day Foley noticed discrepancies.
The man identified as John Bradley in the famous photo wore uncuffed pants but other photos of Bradley from that day show him with tightly cuffed pants. In the iconic photo you can see the man has a cap underneath his helmet, but this is not visible in any other shots of Bradley. Lastly the man in the photo is wearing a cartridge belt with ammunition pouches and wire cutters. Navy corpsman Bradley would have been issued with a sidearm and not an M-1 rifle and he would have had no use for a wire-cutters.
In November 2014 Krelle told the Omaha World Herald, “People can hold onto what they have always known in the past. But to me, the photos are the truth.”
Even Bradley’s own son, James Bradley, the author of the book “Flags of our Fathers,” admits that the evidence is clear and he does not believe that his father is included in the image of the six servicemen. John Bradley’s son said he believes that the Marine Corps had identified his father to be among the men who had erected the flag earlier during the day, but that he agrees is father is not in the famous, iconic photo.
He told the Associated Press, “My father raised a flag on Iwo Jima.
"The Marines told him way after the fact, 'Here's a picture of you raising the flag.' He had a memory of him raising a flag, and the two events came together."
Here's a short TV section on John Bradley's career:
According to Foley and Krelle the marine, who had been identified as Bradley, was more than likely Harold Henry Schultz, another marine, who died in 1995.
On Monday the Marine Corps issued a statement saying they will launch an investigation into the photo. They gave no timeline on this plan.
Their statement read:
“Rosenthal's photo captured a single moment in the 36-day battle during which more than 6,500 US servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and it is representative of the more than 70,000 US Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen that took part in the battle.
“We are humbled by the service and sacrifice of all who fought on Iwo Jima.”
The Omaha historian Krelle declined to comment on the statement saying that he had signed a confidentiality agreement with a third party.
It seems that back in Feb 1945 Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, took the photo but not the names of the men. As the photo was immediately celebrated upon its publication the Marine Corps was asked to provide the names of the men. They gave John Bradley’s name as one of the six.
Three of the Marines depicted – Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank – were killed in action over the following few days. The three surviving flag-raisers were Marines Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and Navy hospital corpsman John Bradley, who it seems was never in the shot. However, they did become celebrities after the photo became famous. That year the photo broke a record by winning a Pulitzer Prize during the year it was taken.
As well as now being an iconic image of US servicemen the image was also later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the Marine Corps War Memorial, near Arlington National Cemetery. The sculpture was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who died for their country past and present.