The Marine Corps has opened an investigation into whether it misidentified one of the six men shown raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima in February 1945, the Associated Press reported Monday. The picture, taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal,  became one of the most enduring images of World War II and the identities of the flag raisers is something that has been accepted for decades.

In 2014, two amateur historians began raising issues regarding one service member supposedly depicted in the picture, Navy Corpsman John Bradley, according to the AP. Their evidence was first published in the Omaha World-Herald and the paper was the first to report on the Marines’ new inquiry Saturday.

The picture, taken Feb. 23, 1945, actually depicted the raising of the second flag that day. The first was quickly raised, taken down and replaced with the second, larger one. The second flag, taken off a nearby landing ship, was raised by five Marines and one Navy corpsman. The battle for the island was still in its infancy and the Marines had made it a point to take the mountain on which the flag was raised. The 550-foot-high mound of volcanic earth was a piece of important terrain that overlooked the small pork-chop-shaped island.

The battle for Iwo Jima, known as Operation Detachment, would claim the lives of more than 5,000 Marines and almost 18,000 Japanese soldiers in little more than a month. The island was deemed an essential objective of the Allied war effort, as it had a lone airstrip that could be used as a landing site for American B-29 bombers returning from air raids over Japan. The battle was brutal, and the Japanese defenders almost all fought to the death, holding out for 36 days entrenched in an extensive network of tunnels and caves.

“The Marine Corps is examining information provided by a private organization related [to] Joe Rosenthal’s Associated Press photograph of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima,” the Marine Corps said in a statement to the AP.

Source: Report: Marine Corps investigating photo of iconic flag-raising on Iwo Jima – The Washington Post

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