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USMC corrected Iwo Jima flag raiser identification

18 Oct 2019

In Jun 2016, the United States Marine Corps recognized the men of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising photo as Corporal Harlon Block, Private First Class Rene Gagnon, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Harold Schultz, Private First Class Franklin Sousley, and Sergeant Michael Strank. Schultz replaced John Bradley at this time, which caused some controversy because of the very well received book on the battle written by his son in 2000 and a movie in 2006.

On 16 Oct 2019, the USMC announced that yet another flag raiser had been misidentified. The man mostly hidden behind Franklin Sousley and previously identified as Rene Gagnon was now said to be Corporal Harold "Pie" Keller. The determination was made by historians Stephen Foley (who also played a role in the 2016 identification of Schultz), Dustin Spence, and Brent Westemeyer, and it was confirmed by a special investigative board jointly formed by the USMC and the Digital Evidence Laboratory of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Some of the clues they used to identify Keller included a possible reflection of a wedding ring (Keller was married, but not Gagnon) and the helmet camouflage pattern.

"Regardless of who was in the photograph, each and every Marine who set foot on Iwo Jima, or supported the effort from the sea and air around the island is, and always will be, a part of our Corps' cherished history.... In the words of General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 'they are all heroes,'", noted the USMC announcement.

For more information:
NBC News: Warrior in iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo was misidentified, Marines Corps acknowledges
WW2DB: Iwo Jima flag raising photo by Joe Rosenthal
WW2DB: Battle of Iwo Jima



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