MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (2/23/2012) — Five
Marines and a Navy corpsman were etched into American history, Feb.
23, 1945, when they raised the American flag over Mt. Suribachi on
The prevailing hoist, captured by The Associated
Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, became one of the most reproduced
and recognizable photographs of all time.
It wasn't the only
flag raising during the war or even the only flag raising during the
battle. However, people remember the Mt. Suribachi's flag raising
before any other because of the perfectly captured moment.
“The photograph depicts the potential of victory about to be
fulfilled,” said Daniel Kariko, an assistant professor of
photography at East Carolina University. “The flag is taking air and
is about to unfurl, and the pole is about to become vertical,
Triumph for a future of freedom,
fought for by thousands of young Americans, many of whom have since
“We lost our whole platoon,” said Iwo Jima
veteran, Lester Fabisch, 88, who was a paratrooper with 5th Marine
Division. “We stepped off, and I was in water up to my chest.”
The flag raising at Iwo Jima was first the American flag raised
over Japanese soil.
“The faces of the Marines raising the
flag are invisible, making them appear as a team, rather than as
individuals, therefore becoming symbols of all men fighting for the
common cause,” said Kariko. “Rosenthal's image has undeniable power
in its composition and depiction of the struggle.”
went on to say it was the right photo at the right time as the
Allies and Russia were pushing the Axis powers back on most fronts.
Germany just lost the Battle of the Bulge and wouldn't launch
another major offensive for the rest of the war. The Marines were
invading Iwo Jima, the first part of the Japanese homeland
controlled by America.
“It was perfect timing as far how long
we had been in the war and progressing to the point where we were
beating them all the way back to Tokyo,” said Sgt. Alan J. Stinar,
an assistant historical officer with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252. “People seeing an
American flag raised over enemy territory can lift up an entire
VMGR-252 took part in the battle as Marine Utility
Squadron 252. Stinar said being part of a historical unit is a
source of pride for Marines who can trace their heritage back to
battles like IwoJima.
“We carry on a legacy,” Stinar said.
“Being able to look back and seeing how they accomplished traveling
across an ocean and take the fight to the enemy without the
technology we have right now just instills pride. All you need is to
put a rifle in a Marine's hand, give him orders, and he'll take care
Today, World War II veterans are often referred
to as ‘The Greatest Generation,' said Kariko.
For a farm boy
it was something different, said Fabish, a Beaver Dam, Wis., native.
But when it was done, everybody went back about living their lives.
Rosenthal's photograph became the quintessential portrait of
that generation and the admirable struggle they endured, said Kariko.
“The name of one tiny island became synonymous with
sacrifice, patriotism and ultimate triumph,” he said.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing & Marine
Corps Air Station Cherry Point
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