U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima [1945] - Photos that made history

Joe Rosenthal (Washington D.C., 9 October 1911 – Novato, California, 20 August 2006), had been a U.S. photographer, he received the Pulitzer prize for this famous picture. Shot during the battle of Iwo Jima, [Iwo Jima ("sulfur island" in Japanese) is one of the Ogasawara islands at about 1.080 km south of Tokyo, 1.130 km north of Guam, about halfway between Tokyo and Saipan] where six Marines raised the U.S.A. flag to communicate the conquer of the ride of the mountain that dominated the island.

The six Marine's names were Rene Gagnon, Michael Strank, Harlon Block, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley and John Bradley.

He didn't even realize that he had taken the picture that for the Americans would have become the symbol of World War 2:

when some days later a colleague complimented me, I thought it was referring to another image.

The genuineness of the photo has often been questioned, many authors assert that was arranged, making the soldiers pose, while other say that it's 100% authentic, others claim that the flag was already waving when he arrived and he made them place another bigger flag: that became the official picture. Joe Rosenthal didn't create the scene but just made it again.

For years Rosenthal was blamed of having built the image, but until death he defended by saying "should I tried I would have ruined it".

Iwo Jima battle was a battle of World War 2 that became theater of operations in the Pacific between the USA and Japanese armies.

It started on 19th February 1945 and ended on 26th March of the same year.

Iwo Jima island was, with Okinawa, a point of essential strategic importance, because from here the heavy American bombers could have easily taken off for the missions to bomb Japan. That's why both islands were garrisoned by strong Japanese divisions. Japan sent in defense of Iwo Jima general Kuribayashi in command of 35.000 men.

Several fortifications made the island easily defensible. The American troops, commanded by the admiral Raymond A. Spruance, begun the bombing already the 8th December, but the first marines disembarked only the 19th February.

The battle of Iwo Jima ended on 26th March 1945, even though the total annihilation of Japanese resistance required other two months.

This article is part of the section: Photos that made history

Translation by Nina Kozul

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