Brief Look Back at Iwo Jima

My dad, Cpl Norman P Sprague, fought at Iwo Jima so I did an in depth look at everything that happened there. 1 thing that I discovered was that the iconic photograph that was taken by Joe Rosenthal was of the next flag that was hoisted on Mount Suribachi. My next discovery was that only two years before that time, the correct names of those raising that flag became known for the first time. It has been many years since the battle of Iwo Jima during WW II yet the facts had not been known precisely.

1 thing I have done in my evaluation was to identify the men who had raised the first flag and I have later discovered that there was at least a third flag also. I have the picture but not the identities of flag number three. Those who were to erect the Flag number one are the following: Lt Harold G. Schrier, Sgt. Ernest Thomas and Sgt Oliver Hanson. Then wind came up so that they needed help and they were then aided by Cpl Charles Lindberg, Pfc James Michels, Pfc Raymond Jacobs and Navy Corpsman John Bradley. “Flags of our Fathers” had been written by his son James Bradley. I read his book and watched the movie also. That flag was 54″ x 28″ on the very first one and it was taken from the USS Missoula, a transport ship. The photographer was Louis Lowery for this film.

As for flag number two, the one that gets all the glory, the guys are: Sgt Michael Strank, Cpl Hanlon H Block, Pfc Franklin R Sousley, Pfc Ira H Hayes, Pfc Rene A Gagnan and Harold Schultz.The Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Rosenthal for his perfect photo of the bigger flag and men. The flag was 96″ x 56″ in size and came from The LST-779 which was a tank transport ship. For several years Sgt Henry Hanson was believed to have been one of the flag raisers but was not one. Sadly, he never had gotten to depart Iwo Jima alive as he had been killed by a sniper’s bullet there.

Lt Harold G Schrier was the first man to reach the top of Suribachi and he had been awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts and heroism. He headed the first marines in the 28th regiment of the 5th marine division to get to the top of the mountain and not knowing what he would face when he got there.

The Japanese were headed by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi who had his men well concealed underground. There were 21,000 men hiding in 13,000 yards of tunnel with a thousand cave entrances. My dad was with the 3rd Marine Div. That had responsibility for the middle of the island. His branch were a reserve unit because they had come from a brand new battle at Guam. Dad as a part of a scout party, nevertheless went out early so he must see more action. Luckily, he made it out alive. Marine command said there were 17, 372 wounded and 5,931 killed on Iwo Jima. Fought along the beaches and the quarry area while the 5th Marines concentrated on Mt Suribachi and the opposite beaches nearby. The 3rd Division went toward the airfields and their part of wounded was 4438 and 1131 murdered. The entire island was dangerous and there were many heros.

The Japanese lost 19,977 men and there were 216 navy and 867 military members taken prisoner. 1 other discovery was that the Japanese had used Korean slaves to help fight to the finish.

After that conflict, the next fight was at Okinawa and then there were bombing raids on the Japanese mainland. The Japanese formerly surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri ship after the atomic bomb droppings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had occurred.