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New Questions about Iwo Jima Flag raising photo? Has anyone seen this?


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#1 Bellumbill

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 06:35 PM

Ironically I came across this article tonight on my twitter feed while I was watching Flags of Our Fathers!  

 

http://dataomaha.com.../2014/iwo-jima/

 

 

I am just curious if anyone else on here has seen this and what some of you think?  We spend A LOT of time on these pages analyzing old photographs so I thought this might right up the forum's alley!   

 

Let me just say this is a lightning rod subject - we are talking about a photograph that is almost sacrosanct - and I am not trying to antagonize anyone by posting it.  I am just curious to see if this is getting any traction in the collecting/history community?  Again, this is the first I have heard of it.  

 

If this has been discussed previously on this forum or if it is felt it is in the wrong place I would ask the moderators if they see fit to either remove it or move it to the correct location.  

 

Very best regards!

 

Bill K.

 

 

 



#2 Brig

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 06:42 PM

Considering how much it bothered the flag raisers when Harlon Block was misidentified, I highly doubt it wouldn't have come to light if Bradley was not the Corpsman in the image. I think the man's nit-picking far too much...boots come unbloused, caps go unworn, things happen to gear and uniforms all the time in combat


Edited by Brig, 23 November 2014 - 06:43 PM.


#3 warguy

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 07:41 PM

I found it fascinating. I am not so sure that in what is described as about a two hour period, the pant cuffs would be rolled down, a hat discarded, and a cartridge belt exchanged with another. ESPECIALLY in combat, I doubt cartridge belts were exchanged. In the end, does it make any of these men less heroic, or the scene less symbolic or provocative? I don't think so personally. For me the photographic analysis here is difficult to dismiss.

#4 Brig

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 07:47 PM

I found it fascinating. I am not so sure that in what is described as about a two hour period, the pant cuffs would be rolled down, a hat discarded, and a cartridge belt exchanged with another. ESPECIALLY in combat, I doubt cartridge belts were exchanged. In the end, does it make any of these men less heroic, or the scene less symbolic or provocative? I don't think so personally. For me the photographic analysis here is difficult to dismiss.

I've definitely grabbed the wrong kevlar running to respond to an incident or two, not unusual, particularly if they were resting for a bit



#5 b_hinch

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 07:57 PM

I get Brig's point, but the photographic evidence is pretty compelling. I don't know that this is earth-shattering or rewriting history, it will always be probably the most iconic image from the war. But I don't see how you can just dismiss the evidence because the image is a sacred one. 



#6 yp221

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 08:14 PM

Very interesting. Clue #4 is very thought provoking. Aside from the pants and web gear (especially the placement of the items on the beIt) the pattern and placement of the "splotches" on the helmet cover match up very closely with Sousley's in the famous and the other pic in clue 4. I think, at least, that perhaps the names were correct but their specific locations in the photo was mixed up.

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Edited by yp221, 23 November 2014 - 08:17 PM.


#7 b_hinch

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 09:24 PM

Very interesting. Clue #4 is very thought provoking. Aside from the pants and web gear (especially the placement of the items on the beIt) the pattern and placement of the "splotches" on the helmet cover match up very closely with Sousley's in the famous and the other pic in clue 4. I think, at least, that perhaps the names were correct but their specific locations in the photo was mixed up.

Agreed. This is the photo that made me go from "poo-pooing" this article to really digging deeper with an open mind. Again, nothing to rock the foundations of history here, but worth a look.



#8 Jeeper704

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Posted 23 November 2014 - 10:33 PM

It's interesting, but I hope this will not get blown out of proportion.

It's one of the most powerful images of WWII and let's leave it like this.

 

On the other hand, it would not be the first photo where GIs are misidentified.

Not mention the numerous photos with the wrong location noted on them.

 

Erwin



#9 pararaftanr2

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 02:12 AM

Bill K,

Thanks for bringing this topic up. I had never given it any thought until reading your thread and following the link. I agree with some points, but disagree with others and have a fresh idea. As others have pointed out, looking at the gear and helmet cover of the man second from right on the front side of the pole, it is clearly Sousley, not Bradley. In another photo, you can see he is also equipped with an M7 rifle grenade launcher. I strongly disagree with the hypothesis that Doc Bradley is not in the photo, but found something else of interest after a quick google search. Has anyone else noticed that only five of the six flag raisers are wearing helmets??????? As seen in this still from the black and white film footage, the man at the far left in the first image below, on the back side of the pole (who I believe IS Bradley), is wearing an HBT cap, not a helmet. Ira Hayes is to his immediate right, on the front side of the pole in this image. A few frames later, as the flag starts to go up, he is now positioned just to the right of Hayes and remains on the back side of the pole. This is not visible in the Rosenthal still image as he is almost totally obscured by Hayes and Strank on the front side of the pole. I propose that the actual arrangement in the Rosenthal photo was, from left to right on the front side of the pole, Hayes, Strank, Sousley and Block with Bradley and Gagnon on the rear side of the pole, from left to right. In one of these frames you can see that Gagnon has an M1 slung over his right shoulder.

 

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#10 pararaftanr2

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 02:19 AM

To lend a little support to this, and further stir the pot, I offer the "Gung-Ho" photo. The man in shadow, sixth from left holding his helmet in his right hand and bare-headed, has previously been IDed as Bradley. I would suggest that Bradley is actually on the right side of the photo with his bare head directly in front of the flag pole and waving his HBT cap in his left hand. Food for thought, if nothing else, and it doesn't alter the established list of the six participants, just their position in the Rosenthal photo.

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#11 pararaftanr2

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 02:21 AM

This photo from the OP linked article shows Hayes (at left), Sousley (with grenade launcher) and Block. 

Best regards, Paul

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#12 Garandomatic

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 03:49 AM

All I have to say is wow... I'll be checking back later when I don't have to run off to work!



#13 pararaftanr2

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:29 AM

Here are some screen captures from color film footage of the flag raising, that is shown in slow motion in a youtube video. They appear to support the idea that one flag raiser was wearing an HBT cap.

 

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#14 pararaftanr2

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:29 AM

Last two images.

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#15 Grant S.

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:32 AM

The picture is about the event, not the individuals in it. It is symbolic of the battle, the island, the war in general. That's why it resonates.



#16 yp221

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 05:24 AM

While I agree that this is not going to turn the world upside down, I think it is important that the facts are reported as accurately as possible. Isn't that what we all strive for in our collecting and researching endeavors? Some may view that researcher's efforts as "nit picking" but I view it as a pretty thorough investigation backed by some rather compelling evidence. When I first started reading that article I thought sarcastically, "yeah, right, more revisionist history". But that researcher's evidence is pretty remarkable and his findings have alot of validity (as far as the photographic evidence is concerned at least). How often on this forum do we discourage each other from "explaining away" problems with helmets, uniforms, etc. If evidence points a certain direction (especially photo evidence) than we should explore that evidence and consider it rather than come up with ways that something just isnt possible.

Is it possible that Bradley grabbed Sousley's helmet and web gear and wore them during the flag raising. Sure it is (but why would a corpsman grab a belt full of ammo that is inherently useless to a medic? A rifleman grabbing another rifleman's belt, thats believable. But a corpsman grabbing a rifleman's belt seems unlikely as it would render him unable to do his job). 70 years later we're left with the photo evidence and whatever accounts left by the now deceased witnesses. But even witnesses are not
infallible. Ask 10 people who witnessed a car crash what happened and your guaranteed to get a variety of different accounts of the event of varying accuracy. And keep in mind that the famous flag raising wasn't, at that moment, the "important" flag raising. By most accounts the second flag was an insignificant replacement that garnered little if any attention at that moment, so its understandable if people weren't paying attention to who was where. Either way it doesnt change what the photo meant to people at home in 1945 and what it means today. But I still feel that history should be recorded as accurately as possible using all the evidence available. Sorry for the ramble.

Edited by yp221, 24 November 2014 - 05:43 AM.


#17 Andrei

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 05:52 AM

Very interesting research. I enjoyed reading the article. Thanks for sharing.



#18 Bellumbill

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 07:02 AM

Thanks for the responses guys!  

 

I think those of you who think this research somehow discredits the photo in general couldn't be more wrong - there is no way to do that - this photo is iconic and unless it was found out to have been staged in Hollywood or something it will always be iconic.  Rosenthal himself said the best part of the picture is that you can't really see the faces of the men raising the flag so in that sense they came to represent all marines on Iwo and in a greater sense all American servicemen in WWII.  In fact, Ira Hayes never even wanted to be identified as a flag raiser!  So, knowing who the men are is, in some way, academic.  

 

That said, as historians, amateur or otherwise, shouldn't we be compelled to investigate a chain of evidence if for no other reason than to ferret out the facts and, if nothing else, then have them on the historical record for posterity?  

 

Pararaftanr2 - I think your observation about the gung ho photo and which marine is IDed as Bradley is a good one - I think you should pass your observations along to Eric Krelle at www.5thmarinedivision.com.  In fact I encourage any of you who have new observations, ideas, insights into this issue to do so.  I think Mr. Krelle is looking for some constructive debate on this.

 

Very best!

 

Bill K. 



#19 jgawne

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:11 PM

I have heard some whopping tales in my day, and dealt with so many WW2 mistaken identities in photos. Sometimes vets claiming they or friends were in a photo - even though there is no question it was taken in a totally different location and time period.<br /><br /><br />but I am really glad you posted this. I find it really interesting on many levels, not just who they were, but on the whole aspect of photographs in history.<br /><br />It't such a minor thing in mass of the whole war, but I have to say the details are pretty compelling and I think deserve further study.<br /><br />BTW, many many years ago one of the local collectors who loved this photo actually got Joe Rosenthal on the phone. He just wanted to talk to Joe as he was so much his hero. Rosenthal was pretty abrupt and just could not understand why someone would want to talk to him just because of one photos he took years ago, and called himself 'just a cranky old man' and kept the call pretty short.

#20 jgawne

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 04:12 PM

Oh yeah:<br />If it looks like a duck,<br />and quacks like a duck,<br /><br />It may turn out to be a DUKW.

#21 hbtcoveralls

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 01:25 AM

Interesting article. Shakes up a lot of what we know about the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising photo. I'm convinced, I'd like to hear from the USMC collectors on the forum.

http://dataomaha.com.../2014/iwo-jima/

Tom Bowers



#22 WW2JAKE

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 01:35 AM

http://www.usmilitar...=+flag +raising



#23 tarbridge

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 03:26 AM

Interesting article. Shakes up a lot of what we know about the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising photo. I'm convinced, I'd like to hear from the USMC collectors on the forum.

http://dataomaha.com.../2014/iwo-jima/

Tom Bowers

I have merged with ongoing thread...



#24 stevo67

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 02:00 PM

Hello to everyone on this forum. I am new to this site, and am one of the people responsible for bringing this article to the press. Even though I am Irish, I have always been interested in American military history, particularly the war in the Pacific during WW2. It is not and never has been my intention to detract from the contribution of John Bradley in this episode. He was a very brave man and in my opinion deserved more than the Navy Cross for his actions at that hellish place called Iwo Jima. How he found himself thrust into the limelight and on a bond tour is still shrouded in mystery. The details are sketchy at best. I have my own theories as to how that might have happened. However, he found himself selling bonds for his country's cause and therefore continued to fulfil his duty. If he was asked not to speak of this, so what. He did his duty there too.

 

When James Bradley wrote "Flags of Our Fathers", the series of photos relating to the first flag raising that day, had not been made public. When they were "rediscovered" in 2002, a young film-maker named Dustin Spence used them to show that John Bradley played a part in the first flag raising, but he erred in pointing out that the first aid pouches visible on Bradley's belt were the same as those visible on the figure named as Bradley in Rosenthal's famous photo.( They are the same type of pouches, in exactly the same configuration, but Bradley wore a pistol belt with pistol holster attached, and not a cartridge belt, as is seen in Rosenthal's photo).

 

The empty canteen carrier has been used by the Marine Corps as an identifying feature for "Bradley" in the famous photo, but as was illustrated in the newspaper article, it is worn by Sousley. Several other photos taken that day show this to be so. Some people have commented that the pouch attached to the belt at the front is an M7 grenade launcher. It IS a wire cutters. Another piece of equipment which hangs from Sousley's belt is a cranked handle which attaches to a telephone reel. All items associated with a man sent as part of a wire laying detail, and not a corpsman.

 

What many people don't realise is that there were quite a few photographers on Mount Suribachi that day. Joe Rosenthal took his famous shot in the company of Marine motion picture cameraman Bill Genaust, Marine still photographer Bob Campbell and Army photographer George Burns, who was there covering the operation for Yank magazine. Marine cameraman Lou Lowery took shots of the first flag raising, and had left the scene by the time the replacement flag was raised. It is very likely that two other Marine photographers were at the first flag raising or arrived shortly thereafter. They are Meyers Cornelius and Louis Burmeister. Cornelius actually photographed Lowery beneath the first flag and this photo appeared in an edition of Leatherneck magazine in 2002. Louis Burmeister is said to have shot a version of Rosenthal's famous photo, but many of his photos were suppressed (like Lowery's) at the time, for fear that it would detract from the impact that Rosenthal's photo had.

 

There was also an un-named Coast Guard cameraman who snapped a shot after the second flag was raised. In it you can see what appears to be a figure dressed as John Bradley was that day, with cuffed pants and wearing leggings, helping tie ropes to secure the flagpole. Below, you can see Sousley with back to camera (but with empty canteen carrier visible) and also Ira Hayes (with poncho draped over his belt). This photo can be seen on the website WW2 Archives, under Iwo Jima pictures. I believe this proximity by Bradley to the scene may have led to him being named as one of the flag raisers, perhaps by Rene Gagnon, or Lt. Schrier.

 

Other people have commented here how in the movie footage, the figure at the rear (Strank) is wearing a soft HBT cap. That is correct. In the "Gung Ho" photo, one can be seen on Strank, beneath his helmet. 

 

Whatever people may think of the findings recently disclosed, take nothing away from this most powerful image. It inspired a people many years ago, and continues to do so. It will live long in the psyche of the American public. Perhaps all this might serve to remind us all that nothing is as it seems. Perhaps it also might bring more recognition to those of the first flag raising, who have been largely ignored by history. John Bradley did raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi. So did everyone who was there.



#25 pararaftanr2

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 02:33 PM

Yes, the pouch is for wire cutters, but the object to its right still appears to be an M7 launcher to my eyes.

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