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.