After 70 years, Iwo Jima flag debate still simmers

Today is the 70th anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima.

Chances are this isn’t the picture that will accompany the stories on the anniversary today.


This is the first flag raising, Richfield’s Charles W. Lindberg insisted for decades. It was taken by Sgt. Lou Lowery, a photographer from Leatherneck, the Marine Corps magazine.

Three of the men in the photo never saw it; they died in the subsequent battle.

  1. Listen MPR’s Cathy Wurzer’s 2005 interview with Charles W. Lindberg


Lindberg said his commander ordered the flag replaced and safeguarded because he worried someone would take it as a souvenir, the New York Times said in his obituary. “Mr. Lindberg was back in combat when six men raised the second, larger flag, about four hours later,” he said.

That’s when Joe Rosenthal got the money shot for the Associated Press.


That wasn’t the only shot he took of the moment.

Seven thousand Marines were killed on Iwo Jima in a month of fighting. That’s about 200 more than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Archive: Last Iwo Jima flag-raising soldier dies (NewsCut).

  • Matthew Becker

    My grandfather only talked about his service in the South Pacific three times that I remember. Once he talked about how good the fishing was. Another time he talked about how great the dogs were at sniffing out the enemy. Third was the time he told us how he witnessed the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

    He said they were hunkered down under a heavy shelling. The guy next to him tapped him on the shoulder (it was too loud to talk) and pointed back. Grandpa looked back and saw the flag being raised.

    I have always wondered which flag he saw.

  • Gary F

    When I was in DC a couple of years ago I wish I could have spent more time at that memorial. It was pouring rain and we were on a tight schedule. Thanks to them all. That was a small piece of real estate that cost us dearly.