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Iwo Jima Flag Raiser's Name Is Wrong in Government Brochure

  • The unique way that PFC Harold Schultz carrried his rifle -- because of a broken shoulder strap -- helped identify him as the sixth man represented by the iconic Iwo Jima memorial.
    The unique way that PFC Harold Schultz carrried his rifle -- because of a broken shoulder strap -- helped identify him as the sixth man represented by the iconic Iwo Jima memorial.
  • A National Park Service brochure incorrectly lists "Navy hospital corpsman John H. Bradley" as a participant in the historic flag-raising on Iwo Jima. (Military.com photo/Richard Sisk)
    A National Park Service brochure incorrectly lists "Navy hospital corpsman John H. Bradley" as a participant in the historic flag-raising on Iwo Jima. (Military.com photo/Richard Sisk)
  • Private First Class Harold Schultz, USMC, was finally identified as the sixth person who participated in the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima during World War II. (Photo courtesy of The Smithsonian Channel)
    Private First Class Harold Schultz, USMC, was finally identified as the sixth person who participated in the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima during World War II. (Photo courtesy of The Smithsonian Channel)

Updated at 6:19 p.m. Eastern, Dec. 4 Another mistake in one of history's most extraordinary cases of mistaken identity was made in a Nov. 21 ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Brochures on the epic battle for Iwo Jima handed out by the National Park Service at the ceremony attended by Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Commandant, still listed Navy Corpsman John "Doc" Bradley as one of the six flag raisers captured in the iconic photo and now immortalized in bronze at the memorial.

In June 2016, Neller had endorsed the findings of a special review panel led by retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jan Huly, including active duty and retired Marines and two military historians, which concluded that all six of the flag raisers were Marines -- a sergeant, a corporal and four PFCs.

Bradley, long identified in the Pulitzer Prize-winning, no-look snapshot taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal on Feb. 23, 1945 as one of the six, was not in the photo. The previously unknown PFC Harold Schultz was, the panel found.

The NPS material stated that the flag "was raised by Navy hospital corpsman John H. Bradley and Marines Harlon H. Block, Rene A. Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin R. Sousley, and Michael Strank." Park Service officials later acknowledged the error, first spotted by Military.com's Marty Callaghan.

"We mistakenly included an outdated brochure in the media kit for the November 21 event, and we regret the error," NPS said in a statement, although the brochures were also handed out to the public that day at several entrances to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.

"We stopped distributing the brochure to the public in 2016 when the U.S. Marine Corps announced that John Bradley was not a flag raiser," the statement said. "We are again reviewing our website and materials to ensure that there are no remaining incorrect references to the flag raisers."

The Marines' History Division is also working with government agencies to scrub the vast archival record on the battle and its aftermath, said Lt. Col. Eric Dent, a spokesman for Neller.

Dent echoed what has been posted in Park Service informational placards on the grounds of the Iwo Jima Memorial -- that the identities of the individuals depicted in the Rosenthal photo were secondary to what the flag raising symbolized.

The Memorial was "dedicated to the Marine dead of all wars and their comrades of other services who fell fighting beside them," the placard said.

"Our history is important, but for Marines the flag raising image is not about 'who' -- it's about 'what' -- it's about a small force who inspired others to keep fighting and prevail," Dent said.

"We continue to work with the National Park Service through our History Division to ensure that future educational materials about the USMC War Memorial reflect what we proclaimed in June 2016 -- John "Doc" Bradley was indeed part of the flag raisings at Iwo Jima, but the famous Joe Rosenthal image included PFC Harold Schultz, not John Bradley," Dent said.

"Again, the identities of the second flag raisers are an interesting historical note, but the impact of that image and the sculpture it inspired is about every Marine: past, present, and future," Dent said.

Dent's reference to Bradley's participation in a first flag raising was another key finding of the review panel led by retired Lt. Gen. Huly.

There were two flag raisings atop 550-foot Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945 by Marines of "Easy" Co., 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. The first went up at about 10:30 a.m. on that morning and set off cheering from Marines battling about 20,000 Japanese defenders on the eight-square mile island.

"To the individuals participating in the battle of Iwo Jima, the first flag raising was the more significant of the two flag raisings on Mount Suribachi," the Huly review panel found.

"No photographs or film are known to exist that depict the actual raising of the first flag," the panel said, but Sgt. Ernest I. Thomas, Sgt. Henry O. Hansen and Pharmacist's Mate 2nd Class John H. Bradley "were in contact with the flagpole [fashioned from Japanese water pipe] on the summit of Mount Suribachi immediately after the first flag was raised."

The panel also recommended that official Marine records reflect that three others also participated in the first flag raising -- 1st Lt Harold G. Schrier, Corporal Charles W. Lindberg, and Private Philip L. Ward.

According to most histories, then-Navy Secretary James Forrestal was in a landing craft proceeding to the island when the first flag was raised. He decided to take it back to Washington. The command ordered a second, larger flag to be sent up Mount Suribachi. PFC Gagnon, as the company runner, took it to the top.

The Huly panel concluded that the six Marines in the second flag raising were Corp. Harlon Block, from a farm near McAllen, Texas; Private First Class Rene Gagnon, of Manchester, New Hampshire; PFC Ira Hayes, of the Gila Indian Reservation, Arizona; PFC Harold Schultz, of Detroit; PFC Franklin Sousley, of Hilltop, Kentucky; and Sgt. Michael Strank, of Franklin Borough, Pennsylvania.

The second flag raising mostly went unnoticed by other Marines on the island, but Rosenthal was there to make the photograph, possibly the most famous photo of the 20th century, and he almost missed it.

Rosenthal said later he was taking in the view from Suribachi when a Marine yelled to him that the second flag was going up. He turned and snapped, without having time to look through the viewfinder.

Two days later on Guam, editors processing the film immediately recognized its significance. The photo became a front-page image worldwide.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt also recognized the significance. He ordered the Marines to send the flag raisers home to lead the 7th War Bond Drive.

The message to Marine headquarters in the Pacific stated: "Transfer immediately by air six enlisted men and/or officers who actually appear in Rosenthal photograph or flag raising at Mount Suribachi."

By then, Block, Strank and Sousley had been killed in action on Iwo Jima, where nearly 7,000 Marines were killed and about 20,000 wounded.

For more than 70 years, the Marine Corps, government agencies and historians have been trying to get it straight on just who did what atop Mount Suribachi in raising the two flags. The problems began almost immediately after FDR ordered the flag raisers home.

For two years after the battle, the Marines identified Sgt. Henry "Hank" Hansen, of Somerville, Massachusetts, as one of the six flag raisers before deciding that it was Harlon Block -- not Hansen -- in the Rosenthal photo.

Rosenthal also had to fend off suspicions that the photo was staged. He actually had not seen the photograph until he got back to Guam.

By his account, "When I walked into press headquarters, a correspondent walked up to me: 'Congratulations, Joe, on that flag raising shot on Iwo Jima. It's a great picture. Did you pose it?'"

Rosenthal responded "Sure." He had arranged a group photo of Marines atop Suribachi following the flag raisings. "I thought he meant the group shot I had arranged with the Marines waving and cheering, but then someone else came up with the flag-raising picture and I saw it for the first time."

"I wish I could take credit for posing it," Rosenthal said, but "Had I posed the shot, I would, of course, have ruined it."

The doubts about whether Doc Bradley, who died in 1994, was in the Rosenthal photo began to surface after his son, James Bradley, wrote with Ron Powers the best seller "Flags Of Our Fathers," which was later made into an Oscar-nominated movie of the same name directed by Clint Eastwood.

James Bradley wrote that his father never spoke of Iwo Jima. He only learned that Corpsman Bradley had been awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on the island apart from the flag raising after his father's death, James Bradley said.

Bradley wrote of how the Rosenthal photo took a "mystical hold on the nation." It became "a receptacle for America's emotions; it stood for everything good that Americans wanted it to stand for; it had begun to act as a great crystal prism, drawing the light of all America's values into its facets, and giving off a brilliant rainbow of feeling and thoughts."

However, on anniversaries of the battle, when reporters would call the home in Antigo, Wisconsin, for comment, the family was under strict instructions to say that Doc Bradley was "fishing in Canada," James Bradley said in the book.

In 2013, Eric Krelle, of Omaha, Nebraska, who runs a 5th Marine Division website, and his friend Stephen Foley, a World War II history buff from Wexford, Ireland, were in contact about the six figures in the Rosenthal photo.

From other photos and film taken on Suribachi, Foley had noticed what he believed to be discrepancies in the figure second from the right in the photo that had always been identified as Bradley. The belt, the helmet and other gear didn't match up with what Bradley was wearing in other photos. The figure in the photo also was not carrying the two corpsman's medical kits that Bradley wore.

Krelle and Foley tried to take their findings to historians but got nowhere. They went to Matthew Hansen, a columnist for the Omaha World-Herald.

In 2014, Hansen published a lengthy article on the research of Krelle and Foley, who had concluded that the Bradley figure was actually Franklin Sousey. Hansen also spoke to James Bradley, who dismissed the work of Krelle and Foley.

"So, you are telling me that there are all these witnesses, these survivors who come home (from Mount Suribachi), and nobody says anything, and then someone figures out it's different 70 years later, when they are all gone? I mean, come on," Bradley told Hansen.

Krelle and Foley were left with another mystery. If the Bradley figure was actually Franklin Sousley, then who was standing in Sousley's spot in the photo?

The Smithsonian Institution, which had been working on an Iwo Jima documentary, took Krelle and Foley's research into account.

After forensic analysis, and examination of the unique way PFC Harold Schultz carried his rifle because of a broken shoulder strap, the Smithsonian said the mystery man in Sousley's place was Schultz.

The Smithsonian titled its documentary "The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima." The work of Krelle, Foley and the Smithsonian prompted the Marine review led by Lt. Gen. Huly.

There is no mention of Schultz in the narrative or the footnotes of James Bradley's book, or in the movie, but his name is listed in the caption of the group photo taken by Rosenthal following the flag raisings that is included in the book.

James Bradley has maintained that the mix-up in his father's participation in the flag raising was the result of the late release by the Marine Corps of additional photos and film taken atop Mount Suribachi.

In response to queries from Military.com, Bradley said in an e-mail, "This is consistent with the Marines' mishandling of this photo and event since February 23, 1945. At some point, all the figures in the photograph were incorrectly identified."

Following the Marine Corps' finding in June 2016 that his father was not in the Rosenthal photo, Bradley told the Washington Post that he now believes his father was in the first flag raising and not the second. He said the evidence came from photos that were not available to him when he wrote the book.

"We had no photographic evidence that he was in the first flag-raising and then it comes out 70 years later," Bradley told the Washington Post.

"And then I realize he [his father] was talking about the first flag-raising," James Bradley said.

"I was never so excited that my father raised the flag on Iwo Jima, and I'm not so disappointed that he's not in the second photo," Bradley said. "I was trying to write a factual book about the heroes of Iwo Jima."

At the time the Marine Corps review was released in June 2016, Gen. Neller said "Our history is important to us, and we have a responsibility to ensure it's right."

"Although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it's not about the individuals and never has been," Neller said. "Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our Corps."

"What they did together and what they represent remains most important. That doesn't change," Neller said.

So who was Harold Schultz? He was a self-effacing, 19-year-old orderly for Easy Company, who was wounded a few days after the flag raisings and was evacuated to the states.

He settled in Los Angeles, where he became a mail sorter for the Post Office. He did not marry until he was 60 and he died in 1995.

He never spoke of his war service but one night over dinner in the early 1990s, the subject of Iwo Jima happened to come up. "My mom was distracted and not listening and Harold said, 'I was one of the flag raisers,' " his stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell, told the New York Times.

"I said, 'My gosh, Harold, you're a hero.' He said, 'No, I was a Marine.' "

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.