Artist: Michael Koulermos
Writer: Bob Schulman

It wasn’t the first flag planted on the peak of Mount Suribachi. 

But it was the largest.

And most visible from the highest point on “that damned island,” as it was called.

It didn’t even signal the end of fighting, since there would be more carnage raining in from mortars and machine guns from the 22,000 Japanese dug deep into those 8 square miles of volcanic hell.  

But on February 23, 1945, four days into the bloodshed, Joe Rosenthal’s perfectly composed photograph, showing six Marines, and a Navy corpsman united in common cause, captured the courage, sacrifice and will that would be required in the days ahead.

It also gave hope to a war-numbed nation that the War might soon be over.

It would soon be over for Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank, three of the flag raisers, who would die a few days later.

Life would never be the same for the three remaining survivors, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John Bradley, deemed National Heroes. For they knew that every last man that served in the hardest won conflict in the Pacific, were just as worthy.

It was here for the first time American casualties would outnumber Japanese casualties.

The count: 6,891 dead and 18,070 wounded. 

It was also here that more Medals of Honor were awarded than any other battle in American history.

A total of 27 Medals, 13 posthumously.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said it best: “Of the Marines on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”