Saturday, June 30, 2007

This Week In World War 2 Geek

Flags Of Our Fathers is one of the best books Umlaut has ever read; the movie version was not so good. This week, the last survivor of the first Iwo Jima flag raising (Not the iconic one that was filmed and photographed later that same day... Read the book!) passed away.

Charles Lindberg; Raised First U.S. Flag at Iwo Jima

By Chris Williams

Associated Press
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Charles W. Lindberg, 86, one of the U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, died June 24 at Fairview Southdale Hospital in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. No cause of death was reported.

Mr. Lindberg spent decades explaining that it was his patrol, not the one captured in the famous Associated Press photograph by Joe Rosenthal, that raised the first flag as U.S. forces fought to take the Japanese island.

In the late morning of Feb. 23, 1945, Mr. Lindberg fired his flamethrower into enemy pillboxes at the base of Mount Suribachi and then joined five other Marines fighting their way to the top. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.

"Two of our men found this big, long pipe there," he said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2003. "We tied the flag to it, took it to the highest spot we could find and we raised it.

"Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ship's whistles went off; it was just something that you would never forget," he said. "It didn't last too long, because the enemy started coming out of the caves."

The moment was captured by Sgt. Lou Lowery, a photographer from the Marine Corps' Leatherneck magazine.

Three of the men in the first raising never saw their photos. They were among the more than 6,800 U.S. servicemen killed in the five-week battle for the island.

By Mr. Lindberg's account, his commander ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded because he worried someone would take it as a souvenir. Mr. Lindberg was back in combat when six men raised the second, larger flag about four hours later.

Rosenthal's photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most enduring images of the war and the model for the U.S. Marine Corps memorial in Washington.

Rosenthal, who died last year, always denied accusations that he staged the photo, and he never claimed it depicted the first raising of a flag over the island.

Mr. Lindberg was shot through the arm March 1 and evacuated. After his discharge in 1946, Mr. Lindberg went home to Grand Forks, N.D. He moved to Richfield, Minn., in 1951 and became an electrician.

No one, he said, believed him when he said he raised the first flag at Iwo Jima. "I was called a liar," he said. In 1954, Mr. Lindberg was invited to Washington for the dedication of the Marine memorial. It carried the names of the second group of flag-raisers, but not the first.

He spent his final years trying to raise awareness of the first flag-raising, speaking to veterans groups and at schools. He sold autographed copies of Lowery's photos through catalogues.

Those who fail to learn from History are doomed to listen to crap music.