Academic journal article Military Review

Flags of Our Fathers

Academic journal article Military Review

Flags of Our Fathers

Article excerpt

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, James Bradley with Ron Powers, Bantam Books, NY, 2000, 384 pages, $24.95.

I did not know that one of the people in the famous flag-raising photo from Iwo Jima was a Navy Corpsman. I did not know that one of the people in that famous photo was a Native American. I did not know that only three of the people in the photo survived the fight: they died even though President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a confidential order to have the six men who raised the flag transferred back to the United States. In fact, the point of Flags of our Fathers is that the figures in the photo were real soldiers. If the photo is awesome, so was the price that was paid for it.

During the battle for Iwo Jima, Lieutenant Colonel Chandler Johnson saw, after four days of fighting, that it was possible to get a platoon to the top of the mountain that dominated the island. First Lieutenant H. George Schrier from Easy Company led a patrol up Mount Suribachi. Johnson handed a small U.S. flag to Schrier and told him to put it up if he got to the top.

As Schrier's patrol was raising the flag, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal was coming ashore. On seeing the flag waving atop the mountain, Forrestal commented that the flag raising guaranteed a U.S. Marine Corps for at least 500 years. He decided he wanted the flag as a souvenir. When Johnson heard of Forrestal's request for the flag, he was furious; the flag belonged to the battalion. Johnson sent Lieutenant Ted Tuttle to the beach to secure a larger flag to replace the one that had been raised. …

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