War Is Hell

Behind the camera: Horst Faas
Where: Phouc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam
Photo Summary: 173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion member Larry Wayne Chaffin on guard duty at the Phouc Vinh airstrip
Picture Taken: June 18, 1965

Horst Faas was an infamous war photographer that shot extensively through the Vietnam War theater. With another author he published a book on his and other photojournalist’s time in South East Asia titled, Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina He captured the War Is Hell image while touring South Vietnam in 1965. The picture was always left uncaptioned and the face unidentified until it was revealed that the man was Larry Wayne Chaffin.

Larry Wayne Chaffin


173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion member Larry Wayne Chaffin during the Vietnam War, Phouc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam 1014 × 1500 June 18, 1965 by Horst Faas

Colorization


The family of Larry Wayne Chaffin claims that the man in this photo is their father. Research into the photo by the AP revealed that Fass added in his notes:

the unidentified Army soldier picture was shot June 18, 1965, and the soldier was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion on defense duty at Phouc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam.

All match-up with Chaffin’s war record and where he was deployed. According to the 173rd’s records on June 18, 1965, the units were sent to the town of Dong Xoai north of War Zone “D” after reports of Viet Cong activity. There was no contact and so they returned to their base but that the deployment was successful as the Americans were able to deploy a battalion task force within hours.

Later when Chaffin was discharged from the army his wife, Fran Chaffin Morrison, met him at the airport. She remembers that after getting off his plane he showed this portrait in a Stars and Stripes publication to which he joked that this “picture is going to make me rich sometime.”
Like a lot of Vietnam Vets, he had trouble adjusting to life back home and died at the age of 39 from complications that arose from diabetes. The family is convinced that diabetes was a result of his exposure to the infamous Agent Orange, a defoliant agent used in Vietnam and linked to multiple health issues. He died December 3, 1985, and is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

Horst Fass


War Is Hell american soldier color

In color


Fass was born in Germany and started his photography career at 21. During the Vietnam War, he was a photo-editor as well as a photojournalist. He was instrumental at getting two of the most famous Vietnam War pictures published the Vietnam Execution and the shot of naked Vietnamese girl running down the road. He 1967 an injury after he was hit by an RPG almost ended his life and left him with serious injuries to his legs. As chief photographer for the Associated Press (AP) in Saigon he won the 1965 Pulitzer Prize and then in 1972 Faas won a second Pulitzer Prize for his pictures of torture and executions in Bangladesh.

He was based in South Vietnam until 1974, in 1976 he moved to London and worked at the AP office until 2004. In addition to Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina he also co-wrote, Lost Over Laos: A True Story Of Tragedy, Mystery, And Friendship He died Thursday May 10, 2012, he was 79.

Copyright info

Copyright to this photo is managed by AP Images for: War Is Hell

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Burning Monk

Behind the camera: Malcome Browne
Where: Phan-Dinh-Phung St.
Photo Summary: Thich Quang Duc igniting himself on fire to protest South Vietnamese religious policy
Picture Taken: June 11th, 1963

On June 11th, 1963 a Buddhist protest march was making its way down one of Saigon’s busiest arteries, Phan-Dinh-Phung St. The procession of around 400 Buddhist monks and Nuns moved through the city until they hit Le-Van-Duyet St where a light blue Austin that was part of the procession, the car is seen in the background of the picture, stopped. The hood was raised as if the car had engine trouble while the nuns and monks in the parade quickly surrounded the car forming a circle of some seven monks deep. Thich Quang Duc a 66-year-old monk calmly got out of the car and walked to the center of the circle sitting on a cushion provided for him. His religious brothers removed a jerry can of fuel from the car and proceeded to pour it over Quang-Duc who was now meditating in the lotus position. Quang-Duc with his Buddhist prayer beads in his right hand, then opened a box of matches, lit one and was instantly engulfed in flames. He did not move while his body was incinerated, while Malcome Browne the only western reporter present snapped the picture of the monk on fire.

Aftermath




Reenactment from the shockumentary Mondo Cane 2


Malcome Browne’s image, that would later get him the Pulitzer prize that year, was on news covers around the world including the desk of American President, JFK. When Kennedy saw the image he was heard to remark, “Jesus Christ … This sort of thing has got to stop.” Marking the beginning of the end of American support for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
For many, the story was their first introduction to religion not then common outside of Asia, Buddhism. Time, in its article “Faith that Lights” article attempted to introduce a faith that would inspire it’s followers to light themselves on fire. When describing the Eightfold Path Time told it’s readers that Buddhism was “full of pitfalls,” and that “in many Western ways, Buddhism is socially useless. It has only a limited tradition of good works,”.

Thich Quang Duc


Thich Quang Duc

Thich Quang Duc


Thich Quang Duc, real name Lam Van Tuc, was born in rural Vietnam in 1897. At the age of seven, he entered the religious life becoming a disciple of the Zen master Hoang Tham. At twenty he officially became a monk spending the next decade and a half in the remote Ninh Hoa Mountains. In 1932 he came out of isolation and started teaching Buddhism and also spending time rebuilding Buddhist pagodas. By 1942 he had rebuilt 20 pagodas and the same year moved to Saigon where he settled into the Quan The Am temple eventually becoming the Head of rituals Committee of the United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation.
During Vietnam’s time as a French colony, Catholicism spread throughout with the colonial government favoring Catholics for key positions in the government, army, and police. By 1963, South Vietnam was ruled by a dictatorial leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. Under Diem, most of South Vietnam’s power was held in the hands of Catholics. Diem’s regime oppressed the Buddhist majority, who made up some 80% of the country. Most high-ranking government figures were Catholic, and Buddhists were being discriminated against in Universities and government jobs. Government policy followed a strict Catholic morality such as, “bans on dancing, contraceptives, divorce, and polygamy, [that ran] counter to customs and beliefs of the majority.“ Buddhists were not allowed to teach or practice their own religion, and protesting monks and nuns were being beaten, detained and tortured by Diem’s secret police. Even in the fight against the communists, it was only the Catholics who were given weapons with which to fight the Viet Cong. It was this intense religious persecution that Thich Quang Duc was protesting against, not the ongoing guerrilla war with the Vietcong.

The ancient city of Hue is arguably the heartland of Buddhism in Vietnam. Hue is also the birthplace of Diem, South Vietnam’s leader. Ruled by Diem’s two brothers — one as a major/warlord, the other ruled as the Catholic archbishop. In May 1963 Diem celebrated the anniversary of his brother’s promotion to the archbishop in a ceremony where the gold and white Catholic flag flew next to Vietnam’s national flag. The two raised flags were a direct violation of South Vietnam Law prohibiting any flag but the national flag to be flown. Only days later, Hue’s Buddhist community attempted to fly its own five-colored flag to celebrate the 2,587th anniversary of Buddha’s birthday. The government said no and when people took to the streets in protest, 9 people were killed by government forces firing into the crowd. Diem tried to blame the deaths on the communists but the damage was done.

The car seen in the background has been saved and still be viewed

People spilled onto the streets demanding change. The Buddhist monks disregarded as meditating, out of touch, holy men proved surprisingly knowledgeable on how to use the modern media, calling reporters, using English signs, in an effort to get their plight to the outside world. The monks strived to push a common message making the following request of the Diem regime: “Lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag; Grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism; Stop detaining Buddhists; Give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion; and Pay fair compensations to the victim’s families and punish those responsible for their deaths.” Reporters who had been slugging it out in the rice paddies covering the fight against the Vietcong quickly moved back into the cities to cover this urban civil unrest. Foreign journalists soon had their phones ringing off the hook as they received tip after tip telling them about the next demonstration.

Taking the photo


2010 site of the Burning Monk

Present day picture of the Intersection. Located at Phan Dinh Phung Boulevard and Le Van Duyet Street in HCMC


As early as the spring of 1963, Western reporters knew of Buddhist plans to use staged suicides as a form of protest. These plans were never taken seriously as no one could imagine that the priests of a religion that was regarded as nonviolent would condone suicide. Even after the deaths from the flag incident, the Buddhists followed a policy of non-violent marches and peaceful rallies. When June rolled around it was painfully obvious that the strategy wasn’t working. The protests, “were having no impact on the general populace,” and the foreign news media had “lost interest completely.” So the monks moved to Plan B and escalate the protest. In secret experiments, they discovered that gasoline burned too fast risking horribly burning the protester and prolonging the agony. They solved the problem by creating a diesel and gas mix that would burn hot yet burn long enough to guarantee death. By early June the foreign media started ignoring the phone tips that told them where the next protest was. That is everyone but Malcome Browne:

…So while other correspondents got tired of the endless Buddhist street demonstrations that were going on all that summer, I stuck with them, because I had the sense that sooner or later something would happen. [The night before the Quang-Duc protest, a message was sent] to half a dozen other American correspondents, but they all ignored it. I did not. That morning a Buddhist monk went out and sat down in a main intersection in downtown Saigon. Two of his fellow monks poured gasoline over him, and he set himself on fire [at 9:22 AM] and died [13 min later]. I was there, the only western correspondent present and taking pictures. I suppose I took six or eight rolls of 35-millimeter film … [By 10:45AM he had the film en route to Tokyo]

It was clearly theater staged by the Buddhists to achieve a certain political end. At the same time, there was a human element to it that was just horrifying, because the sequence of pictures showed the initial shock of the flames touching his face, and so forth. He never cried out or screamed, but you could see from his expression that he was exposed to intense agony and that he was dying on the spot … I’ve been asked a couple times whether I could have prevented the suicide. I could not. There was a phalanx of perhaps two hundred monks and nuns who were ready to block me if I tried to move. A couple of them chucked themselves under the wheels of a fire truck that arrived. But in the years since, I’ve had this searing feeling of perhaps having in some way contributed to the death of a kind old man who probably would not have done what he did — nor would the monks, in general, have done what they did — if they had not been assured of the presence of a newsman who could convey the images and experience to the outer world. Because that was the whole point — to produce theater of the horrible so striking that the reasons for the demonstrations would become apparent to everyone.

The Body


Heart of the burning monk

The heart refused to burn after Thich Quang Duc was cremated

Browne would later recount that the monks at the protest had trouble getting Thich Quang Duc horribly burnt corpse into a casket, “because he was splayed out in all directions.” After the protest, Duc’s body was burned again when his fellow monks cremated him. The monks claim that his body was reduced to ashes except for his heart which while singed was still intact. The organ was declared Holy and is still kept as a holy artifact by the monks. Before Duc died he composed a letter to explain his actions and asked people to unite and work towards the preservation of Buddhism in Vietnam and around the world. This became known as the Letter of Heart Blood.

Government response

Diem’s regime handled the burning badly. He quickly tried to pass off the whole protest as a Buddhist plot with monks working somehow with the communists. He tarred Browne with the same brush claiming that the enemy had bribed him. Things were made worse when Madame Nhu a famous outspoken relative of Diem was quoted as saying, “I would clap hands at seeing another monk barbeque show…” After this quote, Madame Nhu became known and feared as the “Dragon Lady”.
The regime was so outraged over the whole incident, and in a later protest, the secret police cornered and beat Browne and some reporter colleagues, including Peter Arnett. Browne, the actual target was able to half climb a pole while Arnett took the brunt of the blows. He was eventually pulled down and his camera smashed but not before he snapped off a few pictures with the same Minolta camera that captured Duc’s burning body. One of the pictures Browne salvaged from the camera was of famous Vietnam correspondent David Halberstam brawling with the police while trying to pull Arnett to safety.
Thich Quang Duc’s suicide was the first of many other self-immolations around Vietnam. The Buddhist protest exposed the hypocrisy of the American policy in Vietnam. The question of how could the white house claim to be protecting freedom by supporting Diem when the government practiced such severe religious persecution was not answered. After a crackdown on the Buddhist protests began, America cut off aid and the White House became hostile after more and more monks and nuns doused themselves in fuel and lit themselves on fire. When American intelligence learned of a plot to assassinate Diem in a coup attempt, US officials contacted the conspirators and assured them that the U.S. would not interfere. On Nov 2, 1963, Diem and his younger brother were killed.

Malcolm Browne: The self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, 1963

With Color

The Photographer – Malcolm Browne

On April 17, 1931, Malcolm Wilde Browne was born in New York. He left Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania with a degree in chemistry and was quickly drafted and almost served out his enlistment as a tank driver but instead worked for the military newspaper which jump-started his interest in journalism.
Malcolm Browne spent forty years documenting world events thirty of which he worked for the New York Times. Much of that time was spent in war zones and he has been shot at, thrown out of over a dozen countries and for his work in South Vietnam even put on a death list. While in Vietnam he met his wife Le Lieu and the two have been together ever since. It was Le Lieu who notified the world that at 81, on August 27, 2012, Browne lost his fight against Parkinson’s disease. He was survived by his wife, a son, Timothy; a daughter, Wendy, from a previous marriage; a brother, Timothy; and a sister, Miriam.

Copyright

The copyright for this image is held by APIMAGEs: Burning Monk by Malcolm Browne

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Wait for me, Daddy

Behind the camera: Claude P. Dettloff
Where: Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue intersection, New Westminster, Canada
Photo Summary: The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) marching down the street when Warren “Whitey” Bernard runs out to his father, Pte. Jack Bernard.
Picture Taken: October 1, 1940

Canada had been at war for over a year and still, the men of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) waited to be called up for service. Finally, in 1940 the order came down and the men marched through New West Minister to a waiting train to take them overseas. As the men marched, one little boy, seeing his father ran out onto the street and was quickly chased by his mother. Photographer Claude P. Dettloff was all ready to take a picture of the hundreds of BC boys going off to war when Warren “Whitey” Bernard ran into his picture. With a click Dettloff took one of the defining Canadian pictures of World War II.

Background


The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff's famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.

The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff’s famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.


The Bernard family was at that time living in Vancouver near Queen Elizabeth Park. Five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard was in Grade 1 at nearby General Wolfe Elementary (His mother had lied about his age to get him in). Whitey’s Dad was enlisted in the British Columbia Regiment and was stationed in the city on various sentry points throughout the city. Since the declaration of war in 1939, the men of the BC regiment had been doing various guard duty assignments which were boring and monotonous. One of the most exciting events occurred when a bored sentry at the Jerrico Air Base fired his weapon into the ground and then informed his superiors that he was shot at. Worried about German saboteurs guard duty was doubled, especially after an expert from Ottawa was sent in to investigate; after careful study he declared it to be 9mm German slug. The base would have remained on high alert if a suspicious Lt Neil Pattullo hadn’t coaxed out the “true” story out of the sentry.
Finally after months of waiting the regiment received word that it was to be moving to a secret destination “Overseas.” As the troops marched to a waiting train to take them to their next destination photographer Claude P. Dettloff snapped the photo standing at the Columbia St crossing as the men marched down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada.

Whitey Fame



Whitey doesn’t remember running on to the street or getting his picture taken but he does remember the next day when after the picture was published in the Province Newspaper he became the most famous kid in Vancouver. As other newspapers picked up the photo he soon became the most famous child in Canada. The small Whitey was even enlisted to sell war bonds. In an interview years later he remembered that the war bond drives were quite fun.

Colourized version of the photo by Doug of @colour_history

They were six weeks long, and so I had to be excused from school. They had entertainers and put on shows. I remember meeting Edgar Bergen and ‘talking’ to his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and there were local entertainers, too: Barney Potts, Thora Anders, Pat Morgan, and I’d come out at the end in front of a big blowup of the picture with a fellow dressed up as my dad. I’d stand there in my dressy blue blazer and short grey pants, they put me in short pants, and give a little speech, and I’d end by asking everyone to buy war bonds to help Bring My Daddy Home. That got everyone all misty-eyed and they’d rush up to buy bonds.

His future wife, Ruby, fondly recalls that she had actually known her husband for years. Whitey’s photo “was hung in every school in B.C. during the war,” she said. “I saw him years and years before we actually met.”
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Overseas


The reunion after the war

The reunion after the war


As for his Dad, Pte. Jack Bernard, the secret “overseas” location turned out to be the Camp Nanaimo base only a few hours away on Vancouver Island. The regiment spent time on the coast defending against German and then Japanese attack. It wasn’t until August 1942 that the bulk of the Regiment sailed for England. They didn’t see action until July 23, 1944, when they landed at the established D-Day beachhead and participated in Operation Totalize, one of the first attempts to close the Falaise Gap. After the Allies had crushed the German Army groups based in France they with the rest of Allies harassed the retreating Germans all the way to Holland. There the regiment took part in a number of operations in Holland and in Northern Germany. The last battle they took part in was on April 17, 1945, when they crossed the Kusten Canal. A month later Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) was declared on May 5, 1945. Throughout the war the Regiment had 122 Officers and men killed and 213 wounded.

After the War


Whitey Bernard pointing himself out

Whitey Bernard pointing himself out


Whitey’s dad survived the European theatre and came home in October 1945. One causality of the war was Whitey’s parents’ marriage; as Jack and Bernice Bernard eventually divorced. Whitey grew up and moved to Tofino and met and married his wife Ruby in 1964. He ran a small marina that sold hardware and gas before getting involved in local politics. He was elected an alderman then was major for several years before becoming a Councillor. He’s now retired but his son, Steven Bernard, still runs the family marina.

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St Paul Cathedral Survives

Behind the camera: Herbert Mason
Where: St Paul’s Cathedral in London
Photo Summary: St Paul’s Cathedral during the German bombing campaign called the Blitz
Picture Taken: December 29, 1940 published on December 31, 1940

During the opening years of World War II Britain was all that was left against Hitler’s military Juggernaut. France had already surrendered and continental Europe was under Germany’s control. Hitler, through a massive bombing campaign, hoped to either knock the UK out of the war or destroy its air force in preparation for invasion. Starting in 1940, until Hitler withdrew his planes in preparation of the invasion of the USSR in 1941, the bombing campaign, nicknamed the Blitz by the British, was a regular aerial bombardment of British Urban areas. One of the greatest raids took place on December 29, 1940, when a Daily Mail reporter snapped what at the time was called the “War’s greatest picture.”

St Paul’s Cathedral

One of the most iconic buildings in London St Paul’s Cathedral was seen as vital to the morale of the British public and the government had sent out a call for volunteers to form a quick response fire crew. Drawing on members of the Royal Institute of British Architects the group was a who’s who of intellectuals, well-known architects, famous artists and the most distinguished historians of the day. They slept on site in shifts in the Cathedral’s crypt and would keep watch on the rooftop during bombing runs searching for incendiary bomb strikes. Armed with only tin hats, and basic fire-fighting equipment they laid in wait for any bombs that might strike the mighty structure.
Before the December 29th raid there were a number of close calls including a bomb strike on October 10, 1940, and another the next year on April 17, 1941. The closest the cathedral came to complete destruction was on September 12, 1940, when a one-ton land mine landed next to St Paul’s. It burrowed down about twenty-seven feet and had to be painstakingly dug out by a team led by Robert Davies of the Canadian Army Engineers. After three days they were able to carefully lift the bomb out of its hole and detonate in safely in the countryside. The bomb left a 100ft wide crater and if it had detonated where it landed the bomb would have completely destroyed the cathedral.

German magazine showing St Paul's Cathedral during the German bombing campaign called the Blitz

The Germans had a different take on the picture with the January 23, 1941 edition of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung showing the picture along with a story about how London was burning and the end of the war was in sight.


All bomb hits to the building were covered up by the government. After the war, a Blitz survivor who was six at the time remembers being carried into the damaged Cathedral on her fire-warden father’s shoulders. “Take a look and remember”, he told her. “You will never, ever hear about this again.”

Taking the picture

The Germans had a different take on the picture with the January 23, 1941 edition of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung showing the picture along with a story about how London was burning and the end of the war was in sight.
The night raid of December 29th was London’s 114th night of the Blitz and the first bombs started falling at 18:15 GMT. Bombs seemed to concentrate near the famed St Paul’s Cathedral. Churchill became so alarmed by the threat of damage to the building that he ordered “all fire-fighting resources be directed at St Paul’s. The cathedral must be saved, he said damage to the fabric would sap the morale of the country.” That night there was actually a close call when an incendiary bomb struck the lead shell of the dome and then fell out into the Stone Gallery but the quick response crew was able to extinguish its flames before they were able to ignite the dome timbers.
On that same night a Daily Mail photographer, Herbert Mason, perched on the roof of the Daily mail on Tudor Street was able to take the famous picture as the cathedral was illuminated by searchlights. The image was published two days later, on December 31. The paper then took the unusual step of publishing the photographer’s account of how he took the image:

I focused at intervals as the great dome loomed up through the smoke. Glares of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two I released my shutter.

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Fat Man explodes

Behind the camera: A crew member of one of the two B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack.
National Archives image (208-N-43888)
Where: Nagasaki, Japan
Photo Summary: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
Picture Taken: August 9, 1945
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a military photographer

In an effort to end the war, and three days after the Hiroshima atomic bombing, the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb (Equal to the force of 21 kilotons of TNT) on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. The United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped the bomb was called the Bockscar (sometimes called Bock’s Car or Bocks Car). The plane was piloted by Maj Charles W. Sweeney and co-pilot Capt Charles Donald Albury. Fat Man Detonated at about 1,800 feet (550 m) the explosion flattened the city and killed outright around 39,000 people, with a further 25,000 injured. Thousands more would soon die from their wounds.

Bombing mission


Enlisted flight crew of the Bock's Car.

Crew C-15. front row: Dehart, Kuharek, Buckley, Gallagher, Spitzer; back row: Olivi, Beahan, Sweeney, Van Pelt, Albury

The mission procedure for August 9, 1945, nuclear bombing run involved 5 B-29s bombers. Two were equipped as weather reconnaissance planes and would fly an hour ahead of the one designated bomber and two support bombers who would be providing instrumentation and photographic support for the mission. The primary target for the second nuclear attack (The first was the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1945) was the city of Kokura. The port city of Nagasaki was the secondary target. At the designated time the two weather bombers flew over the cities and determined that both targets were clear.

After getting the all-clear by the weather planes the designated bomber, Bockscar, and its support plane The Great Artiste met at the designated rally point. However the third support plane Big Stink failed to show. After waiting 40 min the two bombers continued to the primary target, Kokura. The drop on Kokura was cancelled as the city was covered by cloud and smoke from an earlier firebombing attack. The planes moved onto the secondary target, Nagasaki only to find that it too had been covered in clouds. While circling the city the crew determined that fuel levels would force them to ditch the mission. Sweeney decided that against orders he would do a radar run, a system that in 1945 was notoriously inaccurate. As the plane prepared to drop the bomb, twenty seconds before release, Beahan spotted a cloud break and shouted over the intercom, “I can see [Nagasaki], I can see it, I’ve got it!” Sweeney halted the radar drop and answered, “You own it.” Co-pilot Fred Olivi would recall that Beahan “took over, set up the bombsight and dropped the bomb.”
Both planes quickly turned to flee the explosion but even as they speed away all aboard the planes were aware of an intense flash that could even be seen through their arc-welder glasses. William Laurence a reporter flying on The Great Artiste would later write:

Observers in the tail of our ship saw a giant ball of fire rise as though from the bowels of the earth, belching forth enormous white smoke rings. Next, they saw a giant pillar of purple fire, 10,000 feet high, shooting skyward with enormous speed … [As the radioactive cloud reached the plane’s altitude] it was no longer smoke, or dust, or even a cloud of fire. It was a living thing, a new species of being, right before our incredulous eyes.

The cloud rising to almost 60,000 feet seemed to chase the planes and the crew of the Bockscar had to take evasive manoeuvres to escape the cloud. Co-pilot Fred Olivi reported that Sweeney “dove the aircraft down and to the right with full throttles, to pull away from the oncoming mushroom cloud. For a while, I couldn’t tell whether we were gaining on it, or it was gaining on us … But then we began to see that we were pulling away and we escaped the radiation.”
As they put distance between the cloud and the planes someone on either the Bockscar or The Great Artiste took the famous Fat Man photo.
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Mission crew


Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945.

Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945.


Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945
The Bockscar crew was made up of:
Maj Charles W. Sweeney, Flight Commander
Capt Charles Donald Albury, Pilot
2nd Lt Fred Olivi, regular co-pilot
Capt James van Pelt, navigator
Capt Kermit Beahan, bombardier
Master Sergeant John D. Kuharek, flight engineer
SSgt Ray Gallagher, gunner, assistant flight engineer
SSgt Edward Buckley, radar operator
Sgt Abe Spitzer, radio operator
Sgt Albert Dehart, tail gunner
CDR Frederick L. Ashworth USN, weaponeer
LT Philip Barnes (USN), assistant weaponeer
2nd Lt Jacob Beser, radar countermeasures

Accompanying the Bockscar was another B-29 bomber The Great Artiste

Capt. Frederick C. Bock, aircraft commander
Lt. Hugh C. Ferguson, co-pilot
Lt. Leonard A. Godfrey, navigator
Lt. Charles Levy, bombardier
Master Sgt. Roderick F. Arnold, flight engineer
Sgt. Ralph D. Belanger, assistant flight engineer
Sgt. Ralph D. Curry, radio operator
Sgt. William C. Barney, radar operator
Sgt. Robert J. Stock, tail gunner
S/Sgt. Walter Goodman
Reporter William Lawrence

Final landing

Once the bomb was dropped and the planes headed home. Commander Sweeney couldn’t get any response on the radio from Navy rescue squad that was supposed to accompany the Bockscar back to base. Since they were hours behind schedule the crew determined that the Navy had given up and returned home. Due to fuel constraints, they headed to Okinawa but couldn’t raise anyone at Okinawa’s Yontan airfield. To get the attention of the ground crews Sweeny ordered the firing of all flares on board and then brought the plane in for a landing. They landed halfway down the runway narrowly missing a B-24 taking off and a line of parked B-24s. Only the skill of the pilots prevented the plane from crashing. After they grounded the plane they discovered that there was only seven gallons of fuel left, about one minute of flight time for a B-29. When emergency crews reached the plane a paramedic popped the hatch and asked where the wounded and dead were? Commander Sweeney pointed north towards Nagasaki and said, “back there.”

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Kent State Shooting

Behind the camera: Student photographer John Filo
Where: Kent University
Photo Summary: Mary Vecchio screaming as she crouched over the bleeding body of Jeffrey Miller
Picture Taken: May 4, 1970

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin’.
Four dead in Ohio.
“Ohio” song by the folk band: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in protest of the Kent State massacre.

On May 4, 1970 the obscure Kent University jumped to the world’s attention when 13 students where shot, 4 killed, by National Guard members. The National Guard had been brought on campus in response to earlier violent protests. Student photographer John Filo captured his famous picture of then 14-year-old runaway, Mary Vecchio, as she crouched over the bleeding body of Jeffrey Miller. The picture has become a photo that visually symbolized the protests of the Vietnam War era.

Events leading to the May 4 shooting.

Vietnam Protest

Kent State Student

From another angle

Richard Nixon was elected to office in 1968 on the promise that he would remove American GIs from Vietnam. Since the ’68 election tensions had slowly been rising in America and especially on University campuses. Events such as the exposure of the secret bombing campaigns in Indochina, the My Lai massacre in November 1969 and then in December of the same year the first draft lottery in decades did nothing to calm campus life. On April 30th, 1970 President Nixon in a televised announcement told America that US forces had 5 days earlier invaded Cambodia to destroy Vietnamese bases there.

Campuses across the country exploded in response to the acknowledgment of American forces opening a new front in Indochina. Students felt betrayed by Nixon. Instead of removing American forces from Indochina, with the Cambodian invasion, it appeared that Nixon was escalating the war. A growing war combined with the new draft system meant that there was a real risk of being forced to fight in a war that many saw as unjust and unnecessary.

John Filo took another picture from a different angle

John Filo took another picture from a different angle

Protests were organized throughout the US including Kent State University. At Kent a huge demonstration on Fri, May 1st and again the following Mon, May 4th was planned. The May 1st rally was held on the University Commons area (an open grassy area for sports rallies). Speeches against the war and the Nixon administration were given, and a copy of the Constitution was buried to symbolize how the constitution was dead because Congress had never declared war. (Congress has to approve the country going to war) As the evening fell the protest moved onto the downtown streets of Kent where many incidents between protesters and police occurred. The town bars were ordered closed by the major, which made the crowds even more unhinged as drunken youths spilled on to the streets. Eventually, protest turned to riot and riot turned to violence with frustrated students smashing downtown store windows, vandalizing and looting stores.

For every action there is a reaction

Kent’s Mayor, Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency in the town and appealed to the Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes for help. Governor Rhodes responded by sending in the National Guard to bring order to the town. The Guard was able to deploy almost right away because the Ohio National Guard were already on duty in Northeast Ohio.

They’re the worst type of people
-Governor James Rhodes on the Vietnam protesters

The Guard arrived on campus on the evening of Sat, May 2nd to find a huge crowd of about 1000 students surrounding a burning ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) building on campus. Firemen were hindered in their efforts to put out the blaze by angry students. The wooden ROTC building would eventually burn to the ground. National Guard members spent the rest of the night arresting students and dispersing protesters with tear gas. No one was ever caught in regards to the arson of the ROTC building and there is much controversy surrounding who started the fire because the ROTC building was already abandoned, boarded up and scheduled for demolition. On Sun May 3rd, students awoke to their campus looking like a war zone with armed National Guard members everywhere, helicopters buzzing overhead and tanks stationed on University grounds. Sunday was a warm and sunny day and bemused students talked with Guardsmen occupying the campus. Governor James Rhodes gave a charged emotional speech where he gave a less than flattering portrayal of the student demonstrators: “They’re worse than the brownshirts and the communist element and also the nightriders and the vigilantes … They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.”
In the speech, the Governor also promised that he would get a court order banning future protests and gave the impression that something like martial law had been declared. Governor Rhodes actually had neither declared marital war or got a court injunction making campus demonstrations illegal but neither the National Guard or student organizers knew that. Sunday evening saw more protests and confrontations between protesters and guardsmen, exchanges between the two groups resulted in several students getting stabbed by Guardsmen bayonets.

May 4, Kent State Shootings

On Fri, May 1st, a protest was planned for noon on Mon May 4th and students attempted to follow through with the May 4 protest. However, the University attempted to stop the event and handed out thousands of leaflets that said the protest was cancelled. Despite the University efforts about 2,000 people gathered on the university’s Commons. Kent University breaks the crowd into:

… about 500 core demonstrators were gathered around the Victory Bell at one end of the Commons, another 1000 people were “cheerleaders” supporting the active demonstrators, and an additional 1500 people were spectators standing around the perimeter of the Commons. Across the Commons at the burned-out ROTC building stood about 100 Ohio National

Even though the protest was going on the campus was still open, people were going to class, having lunch and doing University things.

Fix Bayonets

General Canterbury the commander of the Guardsmen ordered that the demonstration be dispersed to prevent any more outbreaks of violence. The protesters were first told to break up through loudspeakers and when that didn’t work teargas was fired into the crowds. However, the wind that day quickly dispersed the gas making it unsuccessful in breaking up the rally. Canterbury then ordered the Guardsmen, with bayonets fixed, to march across the commons in an effort to break up the crowd. The crowd was forced up, Blanket Hill, and down the other side towards the parking lot and practice football field. The Guardsmen with little or no crowd control experience soon became separated, with most of the men following the students directly. The 77 men who followed the students soon became trapped when their march lead them to a football field surrounded on three sides with a fence. Students at this time had still not dispersed and started to yell and throw rocks at the Guardsmen. There is some debate about how threatened this rock throwing was with protesters claiming that because of the distance only a few rocks hit the Guardsmen:

I did see one rock hit a Guardsman. And I say this because there were reports that came out of the press that fire hydrants had been thrown, Guardsmen had been bleeding and there was lots of lies afterwards, but I was right there, in the middle of it — nada — did not happen. But the one rock that I did see bounced off of a Guardsman’s helmet. And we’re talkin’ like a long way away. These guys were way down in the field. And that was that. So the Guard were in a crouching position with their guns out to shoot. Like you would think the Continental Army was.
-Carol Mirman – Student present during the Kent State shootings

Eye Witness

In 2013 on popular website Reddit a man claiming to be one of the men in the background posted his memories of the incident:

The guy with the white bandana and behind him and the fence is a guy with blond hair and long sideburns……well that is me at age 19. … I attended Kent State for one semester and was not a resident on campus May 4. … May 4 was a beautiful warm sunny day. At Kent there was a cafeteria on a rise and students often took their lunches outside on the grass. … I was walking from my class when the shots were fired and then saw people running. I headed to my car. I walked from Taylor Hall and there was a lot of confusion. I never saw Jeffrey Miller nor the photographer nor the girl screaming because there was another student down in the grass (later learned it was Dean Kahler) just a few feet away. In fact you can see people in the foreground pointing toward him but you can’t see him. Also the guard troops were sweeping up the hill the other direction so I could get behind them and get to my car. Several of us stopped around Dean who was alive but could not move. We stayed near him milling about being totally useless until the medics got there. I then went to my car and drove home.

Kent State is a large campus and had large open spaces (at least back then). Also at the time Kent was mainly a commuter college so you pretty much drove there, went to class, went home and minded your own business. It didn’t have a great reputation and the joke in Cleveland at the time was “if you can’t go to college, go to Kent.” The other thing about the photo is that it is essentially pointing away from the action and the guard. So those you see in the photo are stragglers on the fringe. Finally, this all happened around normal class change time so many people were unaware of what was going on. In fact, at the time I was walking in the photo I wasn’t even sure what had happened.

Premeditated?

The Guard stayed on the field for about 10 minutes and it was here that several Guardsmen could be seen huddling together as if planning something. The Guard then began marching back the way they came, off the practice football field and back up Blanket Hill.

When they got to the top of the hill 28 of the 77 Guardsmen started firing their rifles and pistols. Investigations after the Kent State Shooting determined that altogether between 61 and 67 shots were fired in a 13 second period. John Filo a senior photojournalism student at Kent was present, with his Nikkormat camera using Tri X film, when they started shooting. Like many students that day John assumed the Guard was using blanks and quickly ran towards the Guard to get pictures while dodging fleeing students running the other way:

When I put the camera back to my eye, I noticed a particular guardsman pointing at me. I said, “I’ll get a picture of this,” and his rifle went off. And almost simultaneously, as his rifle went off, a halo of dust came off a sculpture next to me, and the bullet lodged in a tree.
I dropped my camera in the realization that it was live ammunition. I don’t know what gave me the combination of innocence and stupidity…but I never took cover. I was the only one standing at the hillside. … and turned slowly to my left, what caught my eye on the street was the body of Jeffrey Miller and the volume of blood that was flowing from his body was as if someone tipped over a bucket. I started to flee–run down the hill and stopped myself. “Where are you going?” I said to myself, “This is why you are here!”
And I started to take pictures again. And the picture I made then was of Jeffrey Miller’s body lying in the street and people starting to come out of shelter, and then a picture where Mary Vecchio was just entering the frame. I knew I was running out of film. I could see the emotion welling up inside of her. She began to sob. And it culminated in her saying an exclamation. I can’t remember what she said exactly … something like, “Oh, my God!”

Investigations would later try to answer the question, why did the National Guard open fire? The Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard told reporters that a sniper had fired on the guards but this claim was proven untrue. The Guard themselves claim that they felt their lives threatened by the protesters yet none of the protesters were close to the Guard. Joseph Lewis the closest verified protester to the Guardsmen and was shot in the abdomen and left lower leg at a distance of about 60 feet. He was shot while standing still and giving a middle finger to the guard. Victims that day and the distance from the Guard line:

Killed

(estimated distance from the National Guard line):

  • Allison Krause (343 feet/105 meters)
  • Jeffrey Glen Miller (265 feet/81 meters)
  • Sandra Lee Scheuer (390 feet/119 meters)
  • William Knox Schroeder (382 feet/116 meters)

Wounded

(estimated distance from the National Guard line)

  • Thomas Mark Grace (unverified; between 60 and 200 feet/18 and 61 meters)
  • Joseph Lewis (71 feet/22 meters)
  • John Cleary (110 feet/34 meters)
  • Alan Canfora (225 feet/69 meters)
  • Dean Kahler (300 feet/91 meters)
  • Douglas Wrentmore (329 feet/100 meters)
  • James Dennis Russell (375 feet/114 meters)
  • Robert Stamps (495 feet/151 meters)
  • Donald MacKenzie (750 feet/229 meters)’

John Filo remembers if the Guardsmen cared about what happened after the shooting had stopped:

No. That was evident in that the squad that came over to examine the body of Jeffrey Miller was armed — six or seven of them. No one even bent down to get a closer look. The sergeant who did not have a rifle rolled the body of Jeffrey Miller over with his boot. That incensed some people. The soldiers regrouped and backed away from the body and away from the crowd of people … It could have taken 5 minutes. It is hard to calculate time.

Calls for Revenge

The Guardsmen retreated from the top of the hill to rejoin the other National Guard members at the perimeter of the burnt ROTC building. By this time students had again begun milling around the commons and what had happened started to sink in. Before the shootings, there was some question on how much of a danger the students posed to Guardsmen but after the shooting, there was no question with many calling for an all-out assault on the National Guard. ‘It’s gone too far’
With the students still not dispersed the Guard again approached and warned the faculty present that the students had to disperse immediately. It was then that the late, geology professor and faculty marshal, Professor Glenn Frank made an emotional plea to the students to break-up and leave the area. The speech was recorded by the news director at the student radio station, Bob Carpenter.

I don’t care if you’ve never listened to anybody before in your life. I am begging you right now, if you don’t disperse right now, they’re going to move in. It will only be a slaughter. Please, listen to me. Jesus Christ, I don’t want to be part of this. Listen to me…
–Professor Glenn Frank

The faculty through their pleas were finally able to get the crowd to disperse, Alan Frank the son of Professor Glen was there in the crowd that day, “He absolutely saved my life and hundreds of others,” said Frank.

Aftermath

 

University shuts down

While the bodies were being removed from campus and the wounded taken away by ambulance, Kent State University President Robert White was planning to shut down the University. A court injunction from Common Pleas Judge Albert Caris made the closure indefinite. Classes didn’t start again until the summer of 1970. Faculty at Kent made heroic efforts to allow students to finish their semester via papers mailed to instructors and classes held off-campus.

Nation wide protests

when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy
-Nixon Whitehouse

The news of Kent State spread quickly across the nation and this incident is widely regarded as the sole reason behind the only nationwide student strike in history. Hundreds of campuses shut down with over 4 million students protesting.

The next Saturday had protesters assembling in Washington to protest both the Kent State shooting and the Cambodian invasion. As the numbers grew the White House grew afraid of another “Kent” on the Whitehouse grounds. They arranged to have two rings of D.C. transit buses parked bumper-to-bumper. Paranoid government officials saw the gathering through the eyes of cold war soldiers with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff claiming that the buses were set up, because “this same group that was at Kent” was plotting to get a student killed in front of the Oval Office.
Publicly President Nixon expressed regret at the student deaths, “This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy.” He invited Kent State students to the White House stated that the shootings should never have happened. Yet he had earlier called student protesters “bums” and in the Whitehouse tapes it was revealed that he had asked the Secret Service to beat up student protesters, and felt that the Kent State victims “had it coming”.
Many in America shared this “had it coming” attitude and the incident further divided the country. Incidents erupted around the country. Anti-Vietnam supporters demanded that flags be flown at half-mast in respect of the slain at Kent and on the other side pro-government supporters demanding that flags be raised from half-mast.

New Evidence

 

FBI Informant

In 2010, the forty year anniversary of the shooting, new evidence emerged from the post-Kent-Shooting investigation. In June of 1970 Attorney General John Mitchell told the public “there was no sniper”. A report submitted to Attorney General John Mitchell in June 1970 stated: “there was no sniper” who could have fired at the guardsmen before the killings. It was also revealed that six guardsmen told the FBI that their lives were not in danger and that “it was not a shooting situation.”

However, over time declassified FBI documents show that at least two bullet fragments were found in a tree and ground around the guards. Also, and perhaps the reason the information was suppressed, the FBI had a mole in the student protest movement. Terry Norman, a part-time student at Kent, was working for the FBI and was armed with a gun that the FBI was able to determine had been fired on that day.

Audio tape

Activist Alan Canfora uncovered a copy of the “Strubbe Tape” in the Yale University archive. The Strubbe Tape was an audio recording by student Terry Strubbe who recorded the whole protest from his dorm window. In the 70s this tape was investigated but then destroyed by the FBI. The new uncovered copy was processed using modern technology in 2010 and it revealed that there were a number of pistol shots then someone giving orders to the guard members “Guard! . . . All right, prepare to fire!” the analysts reported hearing, followed by another voice yelling ‘Get down!’ The first voice then says, ‘Guard, fi–,’ “ the word fire being drowned out by gunshots. The U.S. Justice Department refused to reopen the case with this new evidence citing legal obstacles to further prosecutions and doubts about the new evidence.

Edited version of Kent State

The pole! The pole is missing.

 

Kent State Shooting Full Filo Unedited

The unedited version most seen

 

Photo Edit

An altered version of the picture has over the years been published instead of the real Filo Pulitzer Prize Winner. The altered version appeared as recently as May 1st, 1995 in the LIFE magazine article, “Caught in time” Pg 38.

In Memory of

Kent State University sponsored an official annual tribute until 1976 when the administration announced it would no longer support an official University commemoration. It was here that the May 4 Task Force was created. Made up of students, and community members the May 4 Task Force task is to organize a commemoration every year to those that died during the Kent State Shooting.

It wasn’t until 1990 that a physical memorial for the events of May 4, 1970 was dedicated. The memorial was shrouded in controversy and in the end, only 7% of the design was constructed. A 1978 sculpture of the biblical Abraham set to sacrifice his son Isaac was also deemed too controversial and was not allowed on campus. (The statue eventually went to Princeton University)

On Kent Campus a work of land art, Partially Buried Woodshed, by Robert Smithson commissioned in January 1970 had an inscription allowed it to be associated by some with the Kent State Shootings.

Other Famous Pictures

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USS Arizona Struck

Behind the camera: From the Naval archives, Photo #: NH 97379. Unknown Photographer
Where: Battleship row, Pearl Harbor
Photo Summary: USS Arizona (BB-39) a flame. The picture is taken looking from the side of the USS Arizona. To the left you can Number Two 14inch/45 triple gun turret pointing forward. The supporting structure for the gun director tripod has collapsed and the tripod is tilting forward towards the front of the ship giving the wreck its distinctive appearance.
Picture Taken:
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a military photographer

United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt and many Americans saw the war in Europe as a threat that would eventually pull Isolationist America into the war. While Roosevelt had developed a contingency plan to get troops in Continental Europe by 1943 called Rainbow Five, he faced heavy opposition from people against entering the war. This all changed on Dec 7 as after the attack the nation united against a common threat. This picture of the USS Arizona burning, sunken, broken is probably the most famous picture from the Japanese strike. It has come to represent the attack and since it’s a federal photograph with no copyrights, it is often used when talking about the attack.

Tora Tora Tora

As the Japanese strike force flew over Pearl Harbor most American service members thought it was nothing more than a drill. It wasn’t until the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:53 a.m and the bombs started dropping that people knew it was for real.
Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese pilots had been trained to strike the battleships that were lined up in Harbor. Onboard Arizona, the ship’s air raid alarm went off about 07:55, and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Shortly after 08:00 a bomb dropped by a high-altitude Kate bomber (aka Kate) from the Japanese carrier Kaga hit the side of the #4 turret and glanced off into the deck below and started a small fire but detonated near the officers’ mess incinerating most Arizona’s ranking officers.
A number of bombs and torpedoes hit Arizona. The repair ship USS Vestal was tied up to Arizona so that Arizona itself was between Ford Island to the west and the Vestal and open harbor water to the east. The torpedoes that hit Arizona actually went under the smaller Vestal and exploded under the waterline of the Battleship. Private First Class James Cory who was on Arizona remembered the torpedoes hitting, “you could feel the decks-the compartments-being penetrated just like you could hold a taut piece of cloth or two … separated by you fingers and feel a needle go through them … I don’t know about other people but I thought, ‘Gee, I might get killed!'”

The Arizona magazine explosion


At 08:06 a Kate, from the carrier Hiryū, dropped a bomb, a converted 16.1″ naval shell, that hit between the starboard Turrets #1 & 2. The explosion which destroyed the forward part of Arizona was due to the detonation of the ammunition magazine, located in an armored section under the deck. Most experts seem to agree that the bomb could hardly have pierced the armor. Instead, it seems widely accepted that the black powder magazine (used for aircraft catapults) detonated first, igniting the smokeless powder magazine (used for the ship’s main armament). A 1944 BUSHIP report suggests that a hatch leading to the black powder magazine was left open, with perhaps inflammable materials stocked nearby. A US Navy historical site history.navy.mil goes as far as to suggest that black powder might have been stockpiled outside of the armored magazine. Due to the total destruction of Arizona, it seems unlikely that a definitive answer will ever be found. Credit for the hit was officially given to Japanese pilot Tadashi Kusumi. The cataclysmic explosion ripped through the forward part of the ship, touching off fierce fires that burned for two days.
The blast that destroyed Arizona and sank her at her berth alongside Ford Island consumed the lives of 1,177 of the 1,400 on board at the time—over half of the casualties suffered by the entire fleet on the “Date which will live in infamy.”

Once the fires were finally extinguished and the surviving crew were able to board to check the ship’s status they found a burnt-out hull. The senior officer in charge submitted a status report to Admiral Kimmel saying,”The USS ARIZONA is a total loss except the following is believed salvageable: fifty-calibre machine guns in maintop, searchlights on after searchlight platform, the low catapult on the quarterdeck and the guns of numbers 3 and 4 turrets” (Memorandum, Commanding Officer, USS ARIZONA to CINCPAC, Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 13, 1941.
It is commonly yet incorrectly believed that Arizona remains perpetually in commission but she was placed “in ordinary” at Pearl Harbor on December 29, 1941, and Arizona was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 1, 1942. After her main battery turrets and guns were salvaged to be used as coast defence guns the wreck was cut down so that very little of the superstructure lay above water.

More FAmous Images of World War II

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Greatest Generation D-day Landing

Behind the camera: Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent of the United States Coast Guard (USCG)NAIL Control Number: NLR-PHOCO-A-7298
Where: Omaha Beach which was the military name for the a stretch of beach approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long, from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer.
Photo Summary: Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. The ship is a LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase.
Picture Taken: Early morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day)
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a naval photographer

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade. … The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and progress of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

–Eisenhower’s message on the eve of D-day

D-day

Uncropped version click for full size

On June 6, 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in history occurred when the Allies stormed ashore the beaches of Normandy. Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM), Robert F. Sargent, on one of the LCVPs snapped this photo while the American soldiers of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) waded onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach. Also known as “Into the jaws of death ” the picture is one of the most famous images of D-day, although it is often confused as one of the 11 famous Capa D-day pictures.

D-day

D-day or the Normandy Landings were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of occupied France. The operation started on June 6, 1944, and was the biggest amphibious invasion of all time, with over 175,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944. Time Cover Dday 1984The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The Americans were responsible for two of the landing beaches, Utah and Omaha.
The LCVP in the image was part of the landing group that was supported by the attack transport, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26). The Chase launched 15 waves of troops of the American 1st Division (The Big Red One) from its supported landing crafts. By 11 a.m. it unloaded the entire Division’s troops that it had aboard onto what was supposed to be the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach. While the landing craft brought troops to the beach it also returned the wounded who were cared for on the Chase by its U.S. Navy and Public Health Service doctors and corpsmen. Chase returned to Weymouth, England, on 7 June.
The American’s of 1st Division were faced off against the newly formed German 352nd division. Nothing went to plan as the landing crafts were swept off course by the rough seas. A high causality rate of officers left a lot of low ranked soldiers leaderless on the beaches. Eventually, small penetrations were achieved by groups of survivors making improvised assaults, scaling the bluffs between the most heavily defended points.
The men photographed by Robert F. Sargent were from Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company were immediate casualties. Yet the survivors were instrumental through their, skill and sheer luck, in finding and exploiting the weaknesses of Omaha Beach. These breaches were expanded until a number footholds were secured that allowed easier access to German positions. Over the next few days, their D-day objectives would be taken.
Time Cover DDay 2004

Usage

The photo is actually a cropped version of a larger photo that has been cut for artistic reasons. Probably because as a product of the US government and as such is in the public domain this image gets a lot of use. TIME magazine has used it for their D-day anniversary issues. In the USCG and American archive it is titled, The Jaws of Death or Taxi to Hell – and Back with the caption, “Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat.” Many posters have been made including a popular one sold by Amazon that is entitled, “The Greatest Generation”.

Coast Guard Records

The photographer, Coast Guard Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent, was a veteran of the Allied invasions of Sicily and Salerno. The Coast Guard records department were able to track down a copy of the press release issued with the publication of Sargent’s photograph. The decades-old mimeograph paper was brittle but still readable. In addition to the original caption (below), there is a write up by Coast Guard Combat Correspondent Thomas Winship who quotes Sargent extensively.

Original caption: Into the Jaws of Death: Down the ramp of a Coast Guard landing barge Yankee soldiers storm toward the beach-sweeping fire of Nazi defenders in the D-Day invasion of the French coast. Troops ahead may be seen lying flat under the deadly machinegun resistance of the Germans. Soon the Nazis were driven back under the overwhelming invasion forces thrown in from Coast Guard and Navy amphibious craft.

The Coast Guard records also list the crew of the landing craft.

The coxswain of the boat was William E. Harville of Petersburg, Va. — it was his landing craft and he was at the helm. The boat engineer, the crewman who kept the boat’s engine running smoothly, was Seaman 1st Class Anthony J. Helwich of Pittsburgh, Pa. Seaman 1st Class Patsy J. Papandrea was the bowman — the crewman who operated the front bow ramp and is visible as the helmeted head in the right foreground of the photo. Sargent also mentions among their passengers was the “First Wave Commander Lieut. (j.g.) James V. Forrestal, USCGR,” of Beacon, N.Y.

Sargent mentions that the first waves got underway at 5:36 AM. and that the picture was taken around 7:40 AM.

Colorization by Brazilian digital artist Marina Amaral

Colorization by Brazilian digital artist Marina Amaral

Possible identification

Men running towards the beach

William H. Caruthers Jr. claims that this is him in the photo

Each LCVP that landed that day carried around 30 men. Five LCVPs landed 183 men of E Company at 6:30 AM, of those that landed 100 were killed. In this picture, the men are all facing forward toward the beaches so we can’t identify them or their unit, except for one man with his face turned so that the camera captured his left profile. Major William H. Caruthers Jr. claims to be that man.

Major William H. Caruthers Jr. was in the 56th Signal Battalion and records show that elements of the 56th Signal Battalion were sent in with the first wave to hit the beaches so that they could report back what was going on at the front line. Caruthers didn’t actually land with the Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division but waded ashore from another ship. Volume 23 the 1968 issue of Signal Magazine does show that two DUKW’s with 15 members of the 56th Signal Battalion were on the beach around that time and that their vehicles became stuck on a sandbar causing them to wade ashore. Major William H. Caruthers Jr. himself recounts that:

Our job was to get ashore and see what was going on, particularly to report back whether we could get a foothold there. Things were very touch and go for a while and it was far from certain we could get onto the beach. [when he saw a wounded man floating in the water] The sergeant had some highly classified papers on him and some of them were spilling into the water. I got hold of him and pulled him behind me, hoping to get him to shore.

The picture does to appear to show another landing craft to the right of this one and it is conceivable that the two units mixed while wading ashore and Caruthers does appear to be dragging a man through the water. All evidence points to the man in the picture being Major William H. Caruthers Jr. except for the time difference. As told in the gripping accounts of E company storming the beaches and clearing Exit 1 out of Omaha beach, they came ashore at 6:30. By Caruthers’ own statement he claims to have come ashore at “around 8:30.” So maybe Caruthers is confused about the time or the Coast Guard photographer was confused about what unit he dropped off but it is possible that the man with his face captured in one of the most famous pictures of World War II is Major William H. Caruthers Jr.

Not Easy Company

Although coast guard records say that Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent of the United States Coast Guard dropped off Easy Company in this photo records also show that Sargent’s boat was unloading men from USS Samuel Chase. This information seemingly rules out Easy Company as they unloaded from the USS Henrico. As such based on the time and the visual clues from the picture the men who are in the photo are probably from Company A.

More Famous Images

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Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima


Behind the camera: AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and cinematographer Staff Sgt. Bill Genaust
Where: Mount Suribachi on the small island of Iwo Jima
Photo Summary: Marines raise a second flag over the Volcanic Mount Suribachi on the small island of Iwo Jima, Japan
Picture Taken: The stars and stripes was raised on Suribachi’s summit at 10:37, Feb 23, 1945

Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history. Of the 70,000 marines that hit the beach, 6,281 never left alive and a further 19,217 were wounded. Yet more than a quarter of all the Medals of Honor, given to Marines in World War II were for this epic clash. Up to World War II, every generation of Marines had to fight for the Marine Corps’ right to exist. So when the Navy Secretary, James Forrestal saw the first flag raising on Mt Suribachi and knowing the cost in blood to get it there he said to Marine commander, Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith “the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” The battle, and the greater Pacific campaign, is remembered by this photo taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Update: 2016


Iwo Jima flagraising color legend
In 2014 an article in The Omaha World-Herald published an investigative report based on the research of two people Stephen Foley, from Ireland, and Eric Krelle, an Omaha-based historian. They determined that due to the equipment and uniform of the men in the second flag raising photo John Bradley couldn’t have been in the shot. In 2016 after looking at the research the son of John Bradley and the author of “Flags of Our Fathers” thinks “that he now believes his father is not actually in it.” A Marine investigation into the matter determined that John Bradley was in fact not in the second flag raising photo and that it was actually, Harold Schultz.

Schultz was wounded just days after the picture was taken. Wounds in his arm and stomach were serious enough that he was sent back to the mainland. After several months recuperating Harold Schultz was discharged from the Marines. He worked as a mail carrier in Los Angeles, and died in 1995, only mentioning that he was in the iconic photo once to his family. Schultz’s stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell, remembers that

After he said that, it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it,… He was a very self-effacing Midwestern person. He was already sick and died two or three years later.

Another investigation was launched into the first flag raising and it was determined that there two Marines that were misidentified. The investigation determined that “private first class Louis Charlo and James Michels weren’t among the men who raised the first flag atop Mount Suribachi.”

Sulphur Island


Mt Suribachi - Iwo Jima

Present-day shot of Mt Suribachi on Iwo Jima


Iwo Jima or Iōtō (硫黄島) translated means sulphur island. On June 18, 2007, it was renamed Iōtō its pre-war name supposedly at the request of its former island residents. The name Iwo Jima actually came from a mispronunciation of the Japanese Kanji for the islands by the Japanese military. So the Kanji for the island (硫黄島) has never changed just how it is pronounced.
The volcanic island of Iwo Jima is only about 8 square miles (21 km²); it is nothing more than a black chunk of lava, covered in ash, thrusting out of the ocean. The island has little in the way of greenery and is covered with stinking sulphur hot springs and volcanic vents. Marines who lived through the invasion described Iwo Jima as hell on earth. It looked like hell, and the entrenched Japanese defenders made it one.
Iwo Jima was a strategic island for both the Japanese and the Americans. Halfway between US held Saipan Is and Japan, the US wanted Iwo Jima’s airfields so that US fighter craft could protect long-range bombers hammering Japan. To Japan, the island was considered home territory and never in the thousands of years of Imperial history had a foreign army conquered its soil. The Japanese strived to maximize the US cost of taking the island, hoping to force a settlement with the American government if enough marines died taking the island. The commander of Iwo Jima, General Kuribayashi, had been told, “if America’s casualties are high enough, Washington will think twice before launching another invasion against Japanese territory.”

Move Underground

General Kuribayashi planned a brilliant and unique defensive plan for Iwo Jima. Instead of defending from above ground where superior American naval and aerial bombing could cause extensive Japanese causalities, Kuribayashi planned to fight the Americans from underground. Over 1,500 rooms were dug out of the volcanic rock. Connecting the rooms were 16 miles of tunnels. Before the Japanese died each soldier was told to kill 10 Americans before they themselves were killed. Japanese doctrine called for no surrender and no survivors.

The Battle Begins

After days of bombardment on February 19, 1945, battleship guns fired again signalling D-Day. The naval guns stopped for a few minutes at which time bombers struck the island and then another volley from the navy. At H-Hour (H-Hour was scheduled for 9:00 a.m.; the first assault wave of armored tracked landing vehicles began landing at 8:59 a.m.), the first of 30,000 marines to land that day struck the beaches. The Marines encountered only light fire near the shore but were bogged down with the island’s black volcanic ash that stuck to everything. The loose ash prevented good footing and the digging of foxholes. As the Marines moved on the landing the Japanese opened up from their fortified positions. With no cover US forces were mowed down by hidden positions placed to give deadly interlocking fire.
The fighting was bitter and the Americans took heavy causalities. Marines rarely had a target as the Japanese fought from their immense system of bunkers and tunnels. Often a bunker or pillbox would be declared safe only to have it open fire again when the Japanese occupied the guns again via their tunnel systems.

Hiking up Iwo Jima

Marines head up the hill with flag

The march to the top

After four days of brutal fighting, Marines had fought their way to the base of the volcano when CO of 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, Lt. Colonel Chandler Johnson sent down the word to take the summit of Mt Suribachi. Earlier, a four-man patrol lead by Sgt. Sherman Watson had climbed the hill with no resistance and reported no Japanese presence at the top in the crater. Executive Officer, Lt. Shrier was selected to lead an attacking force to the top of the volcano. The patrol had about 40 men, mostly made up of elements from the 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division E Company and some of F Company. Before he left Johnson handed Shrier an American flag and told him to take it with him and if possible put it up. Johnson’s adjutant, second lieutenant Greeley Wells, had taken the 54-by-28 inch (137-by-71 cm) American flag from their transport ship, the USS Missoula (APA-211).

First Iwo Jima Flag Raising

Lowery's picture of the first flag raising. It is usually captioned as 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC James Michels (in the foreground with a rifle), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right), on Mount Suribachi at the first flag raising. However, PFC Raymond Jacobs has offered some compelling evidence that disputes these identifications and insists that it caption should read: Pfc James Robeson (lower-left corner), Lt. Harold Schrier (sitting behind my legs), Pfc Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sgt. Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown (lower hand on the pole), Sgt Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), Pfc James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).


The climb up the hill was tough because of the loose ash, which was made even deeper from the naval, artillery and aerial bombardment. However, there was no Japanese resistance, some speculate that the Japanese were still in their bunker system awaiting more bombing runs. When the patrol reached the top of the mountain a quick search determined there was no enemy visible, and Lt. Shrier set up a defensive perimeter around the volcano crater. The men were able to find a water pipe that the Japanese had used before it became punctured by shrapnel. By digging a hole and then taking turns pushing the improvised, water pipe, flagpole down into the ground the stars and stripes was raised on Suribachi’s summit at 10:37, Feb 23.

Lowery’s picture of the first flag raising. It is usually captioned as 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC James Michels (in the foreground with a rifle), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right), on Mount Suribachi at the first flag raising. However, PFC Raymond Jacobs has offered some compelling evidence that disputes these identifications and insists that it caption should read: Pfc James Robeson (lower-left corner), Lt. Harold Schrier (sitting behind my legs), Pfc Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sgt. Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown (lower hand on the pole), Sgt Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), Pfc James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).
This was the first raising of the flag on the volcano mountaintop and not the raising captured in the famous Rosenthal’s picture. The flag-raising on Iwo Jima was the first time American flags had been raised on Japanese soil in conquest. (A number of flags were raised on Iwo Jima; including one at the base of Suribachi, two on the volcano summit, and one on Hill 165).
Seconds after the flag went up marines across the island, still in combat, let out a huge roar. The screaming and cheering went on for some minutes and was so loud that the men could hear it quite clearly all the way from the top of Suribachi. The spontaneous celebration got even louder when the boats on the beach and the ships at sea joined in with blowing horns and whistles.
Unfortunately, the celebration alerted Japanese soldiers in underground positions to the Marine’s presence on the top of the volcano. Japanese soldiers used grenade attacks and rifle fire from caves and bunkers on the volcano rim to attack the flag raisers. Marines responded with flamethrowers, grenades, BAR and rifle fire. An intense but brief firefight ensued with the Japanese threat quickly suppressed and the caves cleared.

In fact in one cave we counted 142 Japs. And the flame throwers did a fine job on top of the mountain. We tried to talk them out. They wouldn’t come out, so then we used the flame throwers as a last resort.
–John Bradley

Marina Amaral Colourization and cover of the The World Aflame


There were no American causalities in this action except for Sgt. Lou Lowery’s camera. Lowery was a photographer for Leatherneck magazine. The broken camera was the same that had captured the raising of the first flag, but the film was still able to be developed.

Flag Raising Take two

As Sgt. Lou Lowery hiked back down the hill to find another camera, he ran into three other reporters who were hiking Suribachi in hopes of capturing the flag raising. Lowery gave them the bad news that they missed it but said the climb was worth it for the view. The three were AP photographer Joe Rosenthal, cinematographer Staff Sgt. Bill Genaust, and Pfc. Bob Campbell also shooting still pictures. Following Lowery’s advice, the three decided to finish the climb to the top.
When the first flag was raised commander Colonel Johnson heard that Navy Secretary James Forrestal was asking about the flag for a memento of Iwo Jima. Johnson was determined that the flag stays with the battalion and that the Navy Secretary or anyone else not get a hold of it. Immediately he sent for another larger flag to switch with the one that was raised first. (The first flag’s dimensions were 28″ x 54″ inches and was a battle ensign acquired from attack transport USS Missoula. The second flag a 56”-by-90” battle ensign was taken from tank landing ship LST-779. Which according to Lieutenant junior grade Alan Wood he, in turn, had taken from a salvage yard in Pearl Harbor. Both were 48-star flags.)
Upon reaching the top of the hill the three reporters, Rosenthal, Genaust and Campbell, first learned that the first flag was to be lowered as the larger flag was raised. Joe Rosenthal tells what happened on the summit:

I said, ‘What are you doing, fellas,’ and one of them responded, ‘We’re getting ready to put up this larger flag. The Colonel down below wants it up. He also wants to make damn sure he gets that first flag back.’
I thought of trying to get a shot of the two flags, one coming down and the other going up, but although this turned out to be a picture Bob Campbell got, I couldn’t line it up. Then I decided to get just the one flag going up, and I backed off about 35 feet.
Here the ground sloped down toward the center of the volcanic crater, and I found that the ground line was in my way. I put my Speed Graphic down and quickly piled up some stones and a Jap sandbag to raise me about two feet (I am only 5 feet 5 inches tall) and I picked up the camera and climbed up on the pile. I decided on a lens setting between f-8 and f-11 and set the speed at 1-400th of a second.
At this point, 1st Lt. Harold G. Shrier … stepped between me and the men getting ready to raise the flag. When he moved away, Genaust came across in front of me with his movie camera and then took a position about three feet to my right. ‘I’m not in your way, Joe?’ he called.
‘No,’ I shouted, ‘and there it goes.’
Out of the corner of my eye, as I had turned toward Genaust, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera, and shot the scene.

How the pose rumor started


Rosenthal Gung Ho Picture

Rosenthal taking the "Gung Ho" shot


Army photographers rarely knew what they had captured with their shot’s and Rosenthal had no inkling of what he had taken. To make sure he had something worth the climb, he gathered all the Marines on the summit together for a triumphant shot under the flag. It was this shot that would become known as the “gung-ho” picture. When AP wired him with congratulations on a great shot Rosenthal assumed that they were referring to his “gung-ho” picture. He didn’t see the flag-raising picture until he was shown a print at the press pool in Guam on March 9.
It was here that Rosenthal was asked if he had posed the shot. Thinking that the man was talking about the “gung ho” shot Rosenthal replied that yes he had, “Yes, yes, I had to work on them, as a matter of fact, to get up there because they were all tired and dirty and they were still aware that there were caves around and there were occasional pistol and gunshots into the cave openings.” A passing reporter overheard this, and also assumed that Rosenthal was talking about the flag-raising shot. The rumour circulated and soon reached America when Time magazine’s radio show, “Time Views the News,” put on the air a report that Rosenthal climbed Suribachi after the flag had already been planted and then had the marines replant it in a more dramatic pose. AP and Rosenthal were able to get Time to retract the story within days and issue an apology to Rosenthal but the rumour that he staged the photo would never die.
It didn’t help that the Marine Corps glossed over that the first flag-raising had taken place. Historians, Albee and Freeman in their book, Shadow of Suribachi, state that from early 1945 to September 1947, General Vandegrift laid down a policy that suppressed recognition of any pictures taken at Iwo Jima that might diminish the Rosenthal shot. Thus Vandegrift ruled that Leatherneck magazine could not publish any of the shots that Lowery took of the first flag raising. It wasn’t until 1947 that Lowery was able to publish and get credit for taking the pictures he shot.
The man most responsible for the staged stage story Time-Life correspondent Robert Sherrod admitted that he was wrong a long time ago yet the rumor has staying power. Even with all the info was released by the military in 1991 a New York Times story suggested that the Pulitzer Prize committee consider revoking Rosenthal’s 1945 award for photography. Then four years later columnist Jack Anderson promised an expose that Rosenthal had “accompanied a handpicked group of men for a staged flag-raising hours after the original event.” He later backed down and admitted he too was wrong. Yet the posed story persists rearing its head every few years.

3D Image


Iwo Jima 3D

If you have 3-D glasses you can view this 3D image.

When Rosenthal clicked the button on his camera and took his famous picture he was standing next to Marine cinematographer Sgt. Bill Genaust. Genaust filmed the flag raising and not only does the film clip that Genaust took prove that the Rosenthal shot was spontaneous but it is shot at almost the same angle, height, and distance as the Rosenthal shot. In fact, a single frame is almost exactly the same as the famous flag-raising. The slight difference between the two pictures makes for an interesting effect: By juxtaposing Rosenthal’s photograph with a picture made from Genaust’s single frame of the same scene you can create a 3-D image of one of the most, if not the most famous moments in American military history.
Twelve people raised the flag two separate times on February 23, 1945. Of the twelve, six were killed during fighting on Iwo Jima. Not counting the six killed, four were wounded, that’s ten out of the twelve listed as causalities (wounded or killed). Also, two of the twelve were Native Americans.

Team who raised the flag

First flag raising

  • PFC Louis C. Charlo
  • Louis Charlo was born on September 26, 1926, in Missoula, Montana. A Flathead Indian, Charlo was a great-grandson of Salish Chief Charlo. He was one of the men in Sgt. Watson’s 4 man F Company patrol which made the first climb up Suribachi. Charlo died on Iwo Jima on March 2, 1945, shot in the head by a Japanese sniper.

  • Srg Thomas, Jr “Boots” Ernest
  • Thomas was born on March 10, 1924, in Tampa, Florida. Sergeant Ernest was the Platoon Sergeant, a Staff Noncommissioned Officer rank above that of sergeant and was only below Lieutenant Shrier. Thomas was killed on March 3, 1945.

  • Sergeant Henry Oliver (“Hank”) Hansen
  • Hank Hansen was born on December 14, 1919, in Boston, Massachusetts. He joined the Marines before the war in 1938 and was trained as a Paramarine. A spit and polish marine he is quoted as getting mad at some marines who were horsing around after the flag-raising:

    I said to fellow marine Leo Rosek, ‘I have to pee’ Rosek said back ‘Great idea’ and the two peed down the volcano. I said I proclaim this volcano the property of the United States of America.’
    …Hansen took this in and was indignant, ‘Knock that off! Who do you think you are?’ … I said, ‘I’m an American citizen!’ Hank changed the subject

    On March 1, 1945, Hansen took a bullet and died in John Bradley’s arms.

  • PFC James (Jim) R. Michels
  • Michels flag raiser from Iwo Jima

    PFC James (Jim) R. Michels


    Michels was a 27 years old man of German blood who was born in Chicago, IL. He was one of only four marines of the 3rd platoon, the platoon that first scaled Suribachi, that left the island untouched. He can be seen in the foreground with a machine gun in Lowery’s image of the first flag raising. When he returned to America he got married and had four daughters. He died on January 17, 1982.

  • Corporal Charles W. Lindberg
  • Lindberg was the marine who had to climb Mt Suribachi with a 72-pound flame-thrower strapped to his back. He would later remark, “Suribachi was easy to take; it was getting there that was so hard!” Lindberg himself would be shot through the stomach and arm a week later on 1 March 1945. For his heroism, Lindberg would receive the Purple Heart and Silver Star Medal. Lindberg was the last official remaining man alive of the twelve who raised a flag on Mount Suribachi. He was wounded six days later and was awarded the U.S. Navy’s third-highest award, the Silver Star. He died on June 24, 2007.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Harold Schrier
  • Schrier led the patrol up Mt. Suribachi, where he and his men raised a small (54″ X 28″) American flag. He was later awarded the Silver Star for leading the defense against a fanatical Japanese attack. After the war, Schrier remained in the service and saw action again in Korea. He retired as Lieutenant Colonel and moved to Bradenton, Florida where he died on June 3, 1971. He is buried in Mansion Memorial Park, Ellerton, Florida.

    Second Team


    Second Team and the ones captured in the Rosenthal shot:
    Film Clips from Iwo Jima

    Stills taken from Bill Genaust's film

  • Corporal Harlon Block
  • Harlon Block was born on November 6, 1924, in Yorktown, Texas. When the picture of the second raising first came out, Block was misidentified as Harry Hansen. (To make things more confusing Harry Hansen is one of the men who raised the first flag) On Feb. 25, when Harlon’s mother, saw the picture in the Weslaco Newspaper she declared, “That’s Harlon” pointing to the figure on the far right. Belle never wavered in her belief that it was Harlon insisting, “I know my boy.” It wasn’t until a Congressional investigation 18 months later and the testimony of Ira Hayes that Harlon Block not, Hansen was acknowledged as the one of the six. On 1 March, Block took over the squad after Sergeant Strank was killed. A few hours later, a mortar shell ripped him open from groin to neck. John Bradley later recounted how Block screamed, “They killed me!” as his intestines spilled onto the volcanic ash. Block is buried beside the Iwo Jima Monument in Harlingen, Texas.

  • Navy Corpsman John H. Bradley
  • John Bradley was born on July 10, 1923, in Antigo, Wisconsin. Bradley is the only one who isn’t a Marine but a Navy Corpsman. Corpsmen are part of the navy trained as trained in field medical aid, in World War II they were also called, Pharmacist Mates. Bradley was an intensely private man who after the war rarely gave interviews. His Son James Bradly who after his father’s death wrote the book, Flags of Our Fathers, says that John trained him to answer the phone saying, “No, I’m sorry sir, my dad’s not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don’t know when he is coming back.” As a corpsman, John Bradley knew the horrors of Iwo Jima better than most. First hand he saw the horrors of war as he tried to patch up the young wounded marines, many he could do nothing but watch them die. He won the Navy Cross for heroism and was wounded in both legs. Bradley married, raised eight children, operated funeral home. He himself would pass away on January 11, 1994 at the age of 70. His local newspaper captured how John with his fame had lived two lives:

    John Bradley will be forever memorialized for a few moments action at the top of a remote Pacific mountain. We prefer to remember him for his life. If the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima symbolized American patriotism and valor, Bradley’s quiet, modest nature and philanthropic efforts shine as an example of the best of small town American values.

  • PFC Rene A. Gagnon
  • Rene Gagnon was born on March 7, 1925, in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was part of the four-man team who carried the second flag to the top of Mount Suribachi. It was Gagnon that when using an enlarged Rosenthal photo he identified the other five wrongly naming Harlon Block as Harry Hansen. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought the surviving flag raisers home Gagnon was the first to arrive. At first, Gagnon refused to give the name of the sixth flag raiser insisting that he had promised to keep the man’s name a secret. Finally, Gagnon named the sixth raiser as Private First Class Ira H. Hayes. Of the three survivors Gagnon loved the celebrity, and the perks it brought. However, like Bradley and Hayes, he did not call himself a hero. Gagnon died of a heart attack on October 12, 1979, and his gravestone is the only tablet with an inscription and a brass bas-relief of the famous picture on the back.

  • Corporal Ira H. Hayes
  • Ira Hayes was born on January 12, 1923, in Sacaton, Arizona. Ira was a Pima Indian and when he joined the marines his chief told him to be an Honorable Warrior. Ira always struggled with his fame and couldn’t get over his guilt of how many friends had died while he had lived. When reporters asked him how it felt to be a hero he replied, “How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?” Ira fought a constant battle with his war memories and heavily medicated himself with alcohol. When asked about his problems with alcohol Hayes said, “I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they’re not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me.” After the war, Hayes accumulated some fifty arrests for drunkenness and on January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead on the Gila River Indian Reservation. He had been drinking and playing cards with several other men, including his brothers Kenny and Vernon, and another fellow Pima named Henry Setoyant. The coroner concluded that Hayes’ death was due to exposure and too much alcohol. However, his brother Kenny remained convinced that it somehow resulted from a scuffle with Setoyant. Ira Hayes story has always attracted a lot of attention and is immortalized in a song, “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” by Peter LaFarge and performed by Johnny Cash and later Bob Dylan. Before he died Ira was in two movies starring as himself raising the flag at Iwo Jima. There has even been a movie made about his life called, The Outsider (1961) and starring Tony Curtis.

  • PFC Franklin Sousley
  • Franklin Sousley was born on Sept. 19, 1925, in Hilltop, Kentucky. He was raised on a small farm growing tobacco. In what can be described as a “hillbilly” life Frank attended a two-room schoolhouse and was known as a practical joker. His best friend in Hilltop talks about Franks antics, “Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn’t get down. Then we fed them Epson salts. Those cows crapped all night.”Sousley was the last of the three to die on Iwo Jima Almost a month after raising the flag, on March 21, he was shot in the back by a sniper at Iwo Jima. When someone shouted, “How ya doin’?” Sousley replied, “Not bad. I don’t feel anything.” Then he fell and died. The telegram that reported the death was delivered to the Hilltop general store. After his mother found out, neighbors from across all around could hear her screaming.

  • Sergeant Mike Strank
  • Born on 10 November 1919 in Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia. Strank was known as the “old man” because he was older, 25, than the other men, in his unit. Growing up Mike was blessed with a photographic memory, played the French Horn and had even hit a baseball out of Points Stadium. Strank had been in the Marines since he enlisted in Pittsburgh on 6 October 1939 but was only with the company E for a few months. Even though he had a short time with the men Strank was looked up to by his unit and by all accounts was a great leader. Before Iwo Jima Mike’s superior had tried to promote him, he turned it down saying, “I trained those boys and I’m going to be with them in battle.” On March 1, shrapnel ripped out Strank’s heart killing him instantly.

    Photographers

  • Joe Rosenthal
  • Joe Rosenthal in 1990

    Joe Rosenthal in 1990


    AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal was born on 9th October 1911 in Washington, DC. He always loved photography and after finishing college became a staff photographer with the San Francisco Examiner. After Pearl Harbor and America joined the war Rosenthal tried to join the US Army as a military photographer but was rejected due to poor eyesight. He was able to find another way in the war by getting a job as an AP Photographer. Rosenthal was on the beaches since Feb 19th (lugging his bulky 4×5 Speed Graphic camera which is now housed in the George Eastman House museum) and took a total of 65 pictures over 11 days on Iwo Jima. Even though he took a number of dramatic shots before and after the flag-raising, yet will always be remembered for his famous shot. In 1945, the picture won the Pulitzer Prize. After the war, Rosenthal became chief photographer and manager of Times Wide World Photos. Later he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle with a fellow cameraman, Bob Campbell, the same photographer who hiked Suribachi with him.
    Since taking the picture he has been hounded by the press almost as much as the flag raisers. Before he died at the age of 94 in Aug 2006 he’d done more than 18,000 interviews. Before in yet another interview, he tried to get across what being part of one of the most famous moments of World War II is like, “I don’t know how to get across to anybody what 50 years of constant repetition means.” When asked about the rumors of his faking the image he said if he did fake it, he would have told them to do it over, “I can’t see your faces.”
    On August 20, 2006, at the ripe old age of 94, Rosenthal died of natural causes in his sleep in Novato, a suburb of San Francisco.

  • Staff Sergeant William H. Genaust
  • Genaust shot a historic color movie of the raising of the second flag with a hand-held Bell & Howell motion picture camera loaded with slow (8 ASA) 16 mm Kodachrome film. Before Iwo Jima, Genaust saw action in Saipan where he was forced to put down his camera and use his gun to fend off a Japanese charge, taking a bullet in the thigh. For this action, he was recommended for a medal. Nine days after the filming Genaust was killed by Japanese soldiers in the caves on Hill 362A. He was 38 and left behind a wife of 17 years. The cave entrance was brought down by explosives and then later sealed by bulldozers. After Iwo Jima was secured and bodies all over the island were being recovered, the cave was determined to be too dangerous due to explosives. Over time, the cave entrance has been lost and his body was never recovered. Although his film clip was used extensively, Genaust was not publicly identified by the Marine Corps or given credit. It took a decades-long campaign by fellow Iwo Jima survivor Sgt. Harrold Weinberger to honor Genaust. Finally, in 1995, a plaque was placed atop Suribachi saying: SGT. WILLIAM HOMER GENAUST. MARINE COMBAT CAMERAMAN. SHOT HISTORIC MOVIE OF FLAG RAISING. WON BRONZE STAR. KILLED IN ACTION, MAR. 4, 1945. AGE 38.
    In June of 2007, a team of experts was sent to Iwo To (The Island was renamed in 2007 to its pre-war name) in search of Genaust’s remains. They identified two caves on Hill 362A that could hold his remains but were blocked from entering out of fear of unexploded ordnance and cave-in dangers. The team sent their finding to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) research center which is dedicated to finding American service men’s remains around the world. The JPAC team will hopefully do a follow-up investigation to search the newly discovered tunnels. The JPAC team was able to discover the caves thank to another investigation lead by American businessman Bob Bolus. Bolus spent thousands of dollars of his own money to track down new leads after reading about Genaust’s fate in 2005. However, when the men returned in 2007 they did not find the remains of Genaust or anyone else. Another trip was sent in 2008 but it to ended in failure.
    Later in 2008, Mr. Bolus came across Gareth Rosson, an Army veteran from Canton, Ill., who was stationed on Iwo Jima after the war. Rosson remembers that a memorial was set up while he was there showing that while Genaust was buried on Hill 362A it was on the north slope, not the southwest side where the earlier search was centred. Bolus is attempting to convince the Japanese government to allow another trip to the island.

    LST-758 or LST-779

    Recently the United States Coast Guard ran a story about a claim by Robert L. Resnick, now 82, a Coast Guard veteran and quartermaster on LST-758 on of many ships present during Battle of Iwo Jima. He claims that the large flag flown on Mt Suribachi wasn’t taken from LST-779 but his own LST-758:

    on the morning of February 23, 1945. Just after 11:15 a.m., a helmeted young Marine with dark sideburns came aboard LST-758 … requesting the flag … Resnick recalls climbing the 10-foot steel ladder to the signal bridge. Rummaging around in the wooden bunting box, he worked his way toward the bottom and felt a large flag, still folded.
    Gagnon then asked for a 20-30 foot pipe … he was given a 21-foot galvanized steel steamfitter’s pipe. It weighed more than 150 pounds, Resnick said. Gagnon slung it over his left shoulder, tucked Resnick’s flag under his right arm, and headed up the volcano as Resnick stood on the deck watching history unfold.
    “Renee Gagnon struggled mightily but the sand at the base of the volcano was too soft and Gagnon barely made any headway,” notes Resnick. “Then he dropped the pole and pulled it by its nose. Evidently, he called up to the summit and two other Marines shouldered the pipe and Gagnon carried the flag the rest of the way up.”
    Resnick said it was probably a 20-minute journey.
    Beached under the precipice of Mt. Suribachi, Resnick’s ship lost track of the men as Mt. Suribachi obstructed their view. As LST-758 began leaving the beach in reverse, Resnick heard, “a tremendous and sudden ovation from every man on the beach.”
    “There was a whooping and hollering — a tremendous cheer as the flag went up,” said Resnick. “Every ship tooted its horn,” he said. “The memory is very clear and compounded by great sentiment and great apprehension as I recall the sites of death,” said Resnick.

    Doubt is cast on his story because it is never mentioned that Gagnon brought the pipe with him up the volcano. Most accounts speak of finding pipes on the summit for both flags. Also, Renee was involved with the second raising, not the first and the second raising was hardly noticed by anyone, it was the first raising when “a tremendous and sudden ovation from every man on the beach.”

    Maker of the Flag

    In the run-up to the war, small American factories made the US flags that flew from ships, military bases, funeral services, etc. One of these little plants was the “flag loft” at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo California. There one lady, Mrs. Mabel Sauvageau, made flags and battle jackets for the men.

    There were about 100 girls on each shift and I did the assembling, stitching the flags and putting the stars and stripes together. They told me the flag had my number on it — 320 — I remember that We packed the flags in bundles of 10 and the 10th flag on top had the number on it. If it had been one of the other flags, I never would have known.

    Her number, 320, was discovered on the second flag that was raised on Iwo Jima and whose image was captured by Rosenthal. The Navy was able to track Mabel Sauvageau down to her factory and tell her not too soon after the flag-raising that the famous flag was one she made. Sauvageau remembers that “At the time, I didn’t think too much of it, but I guess anybody would feel proud.” In the early ’70s, the military again tracked her down to present her with a framed picture of the raising autographed by Rosenthal.

    Aftermath

    The Rosenthal shot was famous almost right away but what would make probably the most reprinted military picture ever was the 1945 7th bond tour. During World War II the American government paid for the war effort by selling bonds to the US public. By 1945 there had been six “Bond Tours”. The tours were big showy events with Hollywood stars, music, and stadium appearances all designed to sell bonds. When the flag-raising picture started appearing on all the major newspapers FDR knew he had a symbol for the next tour.
    He quickly arranged for the surviving flag raisers to get back to the States, to lead the bond drive. Soon the three surviving members of the flag-raising: Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon were meeting the president and touring the country in an effort to sell more bonds. The Rosenthal shot was reproduced everywhere covering America with pictures of the Iwo Jima flag-raising. It hung in:
    One million Retail Store windows.
    16,000 Movie Theaters.
    15,000 Banks.
    200,000 Factories.
    30,000 Railroad Stations.
    5,000 Large Billboards.
    With Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon in tow, the 7th Bond Tour raised $24 Billion (1945 Dollars) for the US war effort. Considering that the US budget for 1946 was 56 billion this was quite an achievement.
    In addition to posters and other reproductions of the image in July 1945, the United States Post Office also released a postage stamp of the shot. Making it one of the few times that the US post office has released a stamp with images of living people.

    Battle Won


    From the initial landing on February 19 the battle raged on with marines slowly, and at great cost, pushing the entrenched Japanese fighters further and further into the northern corner of the island. Finally on the night of March 25 almost after a month of fighting the surviving Japanese forces launched a final counterattack with a 300-man banzai charge near Airfield Number 2. This final Japanese attack lasted until the morning with the elimination of the entire Japanese attacking force. The island was declared, “secure” the following day.
    Of the over 22,000 Japanese defenders, 20,703 were killed and up till March 25, only 216 were captured. Of the about 70,000 marines who landed on Iwo Jima, there were 27,909 casualties. Of these, there were 6,825 marines killed in action. Over a quarter of the Medals of Honor given out in World War II were presented to Marines for this one engagement
    Even though the island was declared secure on March 25, about 2000 soldiers hid out in the island’s vast tunnel system. Most of these surrendered in the months that followed but two men Yamakage Kufuku and Matsudo Linsoki, lasted four years, only surrendering in 1949. They had been surviving by stealing American supplies and only surrendered when they heard Christmas carols from a Tokyo radio station on a stolen American radio. They reasoned that the only way Christmas carols would be allowed to play in the Japanese capital was if Japan had lost the war.

    A Statue is born


    Iwo Jima flag raising color legend

    From left to right is Ira Hayes (red), Franklin Sousley (purple), Michael Strank (blue), Rene Gagnon (yellow), John Bradley (Green), Harlon Block (brown)

    Two days after the Rosenthal shot hit the papers US senators called for a national monument of the flag-raising. A talented sculptor Felix DeWeldon had a clay replica of ready within 72 hours of seeing the picture. Soon he was visiting the White House with his replica and plans of building the tallest bronze statue in the world. However, it would take 8 years to create the Iwo Jima Monument.
    First, a plaster was created using the Rosenthal shot, and the three survivors of the flag raising as models. Pictures and physical stats were used for the three men who had made the ultimate sacrifice on Iwo Jima.
    Once a plaster of the statue was completed it was disassembled and taken to Brooklyn, N.Y for casting. The casting took almost three years to complete. Again the pieces were trucked to Washington, D.C. by a three-truck convoy. About 12 pieces were reassembled, the largest weighed more than 20 tons, at the memorials resting place in Virginia, next to Arlington Cemetery. The memorial was designed to be aligned almost perfectly with the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol dome. After being bolted, welded and sprayed with a finish, the statue was officially dedicated by President Eisenhower on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.
    The tallest marine is about 32 feet high. The flagpole itself is 60 feet in length. At 78 feet high it’s the world’s tallest bronze statue. The sculpture’s $850,000 price tag (1954 Dollars) was picked up by private donations, mostly other marines.
    An inscription on the memorial reads: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.” This was a quote from Admiral. Chester A. Nimitz “Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

    Copyright Info

    Image licensing can be found at AP Images: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

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    Flag on the Reichstag

    Behind the camera: Red Army photographer Yevgeny Khaldei
    Where: On top of the German Reichstag building in Berlin
    Photo Summary: The Soviet flag being raised over the German Reichstag building by Red Army soldiers
    Picture Taken: May 2, 1945

    In the closing days of World War II, the Communist Russian Red Army smashed its way into Berlin. In the Nazi capital, the German army was overwhelmed into pockets of resistance that either surrendered or fought fanatically to the last man. On the front lines with the Red Army was Yevgeny Khaldei, a Soviet war photographer. In the future, he would say that he spent every 1,481 days of the Russian-German war covering the Soviet battle for the motherland, but in Nazi Berlin, he was looking for one thing, his Iwo Jima shot. Khaldei had seen the pictures of American GI’s raising the flag over the Japanese volcano and before the war ended he wanted to snap a similar scene in Berlin.

    Flag over the Reichstag color

    Colorized version

     

    Creating his Iwo Jima

    Choosing the German Parliament building, The Reichstag, as his Iwo Jima, Khaldei moved to create his Soviet Propaganda masterpiece. With frustration he discovered, he had a place to raise the USSR colors but no Soviet flag. Jumping on a plane back to Moscow he was able to convince employees of his news agency to give him three red tablecloths normally used for official functions. With his uncle, they spent the night sewing on stars, hammers, and sickles before Khaldei returned to Berlin. Even though the Reichstag had been abandoned since the fire of February 1933, which allowed Hitler to take power, it was still heavily defended.

    Who raised the flag?

    As Berlin fell in the closing days of the War, Red Army photographer Yevgeny Khaldei gathered some soldiers and had them pose a shot of them hoisting the flag (called the Victory Banner) on the roof of the Reichstag building. The photo represented a historic moment, the defeat of Germany in a war that cost the Soviet Union tens of millions of lives. The photo was published on May 13, 1945, in Ogonyok magazine. Out of the 36 Images that Khaldei took and of all the other photographers who took pictures of the flag on the roof it was Khaldei’s images that became iconic.

    Celebrated as the image is, it was a reconstruction of a moment that had happened earlier but had been missed by the cameras. The events surrounding the flag raising are murky due to the infamous, “fog of war” caused by the confusion of battle. On April 30th there was great pressure from the Soviet leadership to take the building seen as the “den of the fascist beast” before Mayday celebrations. First, two planes dropped several large red banners on the roof that appeared to have caught on the girders of the bombed-out dome. Also, a number of reports had reached Red Army headquarters that two parties, M.M. Bondar from the 380th Rifle Regiment and Captain V.N. Makov with the 756th might have been able to hoist a flag on the afternoon of April 30th. These reports made it back to Marshal G.K. Zhukov who issued an announcement stating that troops had captured the Reichstag and hoisted a flag. However, when correspondents arrived they found no Soviets in the building and in fact they were pinned down outside the Reichstag by Nazi fire. Zhukov’s announcement that the building had been taken was already broadcast to the world. When the local commander found out that the Nazis still controlled the building contrary to the official Soviet version of events he was frantic to get a flag up and ordered a push to get one somewhere, anywhere on the building.
    Soviet soldiers were able to use mortar rounds, fired horizontally, to punch through one of the bricked-up doorways. Splitting up into small teams to hide their purpose the Soviets slowly gained more and more control of the Reichstag interior. Even with the hold-out defenders a small Soviet five-man strike team was able to find a stairway and make their way to the top. At one point they had to use a tree to ram down a door. Making their way to the roof, they chose the mounted statue of Germania, a woman representing Germany, on the roof of the Reichstag to attach their banner. At first, they were going to use their belts to hold it in place but then noticed that the crown on the statue had holes where a flag pole would fit. So at 10:40 PM on April 30, 1945, a 27 years old Mikhail Petrovich Minin climbed the statue and inserted the flag in Germania’s crown. But this first-night flag-raising wasn’t captured on film.

    The real raising of the Reichstag-painting

    A painting in the Russian Voronezh Museum showing Mikhail Petrovich Minin and his strike team raising the flag

    The next day the German troops attacked when they saw the Soviet Victory Flag flying above. Only with Soviet reinforcements was the Red Army able to beat off the counter-attack. While the Nazis didn’t force the Soviets from the building they did manage to bring down the flag. Two days later the Germans that remained trapped in the basement finally surrendered and on the morning of May 2, 1945, they left the building under a white flag.

    Finally, Khaldei was able to scale the now pacified Reichstag to take his picture. The official story was that two soldiers: Georgian Meliton Kantaria (to please Stalin who was also Georgian) and the Russian Mikhail Yegorov had raised the flag on April 30. Further conflicting events made things even more confusing when reports emerged that a group of men led by Sergei E. Sorokin made it to the roof and also planted another flag.
    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it emerged that due to political factors the subjects of the photo were changed and the actual man to hoist the flag, in the picture, was Alyosha Kovalyov. Accounts would emerge that Kovalyov, a Ukrainian, was told by the NKVD to keep quiet about his role in the flag-raising. The other man supporting Kovalyov was revealed in 1996 to be Abdulkhakim Ismailov. In addition to officially naming him as the man in the photo, the Russian government gave him a Hero of Russia medal. Ismailov died on February 16, 2010, in his native village of Chagar-Otar, in the restive southern Russian province of Dagestan.

    Reichstag and location of the flag raising copy

    The circle indicates where, on the East side of the Reichstag, the flag raising took place. Clicking on the image will show the Google Map location of the picture

    Yevgeny Khaldei

    Original Image


    Yevgeny Khaldei was born into a Ukrainian Jewish family on March 23, 1917, in Donbass, a Ukrainian steel town. He was still an infant when his mother was killed in an anti-Jewish pogrom in 1918. A true survivor, during the Soviet-designed famines that killed millions in Ukraine, Khaldei learned to eat grass to stay alive. Despite Stalin setting in motion the events that led to millions of his Ukrainian countrymen dying in the Famine, he was still loyal to the state.

    Edited version with smoke added

    From a young age, Khaldei was fascinated by photography. As a young teenager, he built his first camera from a lens of his grandmother’s glasses. Soon his pictures started to appear in a local paper the, Socialist Donbass. A few years later he would join the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) as a press photographer. On assignment, photographing children reciting poetry, as part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the famous poet Mikhail Lermontov, he first heard the news that Germany had invaded. One of his most famous pieces, “War is announced” was taken on that day on June 22, 1941.

    Photographer of the Soviet Army

    Red army soldiers raising the soviet flag on the roof of the reichstag with two Watches

    The original photo with the watch on Ismailov’s right wrist

    Commissioned into the Soviet army as a lieutenant he was sent out to photograph the war. Sent into the field with just 160 feet of film because his editor thought that Hitler would be defeated within two weeks. Khaldei was first stationed in the Arctic city of Murmansk with a squadron of British pilots sent to protect the Soviet Union’s lifeline to the West, the Arctic convoys. As the war progressed he shot the liberation of major Soviet cities including Kerch and Sevastopol. At Yalta, he captured the Allies leaders planning post-Nazi Europe. He was part of the red wave that swept across Europe and crushed Berlin. His shot of the Soviet Hammer and Sickle flag over the Reichstag is one of the most significant of World War II. Symbolizing Soviet victory and revenge; not only did Khaldei immortalize the moment: he created it.

    Red army soldiers raising the soviet flag on the roof of the reichstag with two Watches

    The original photo (above) was altered by editing out the watch on Ismailov’s right wrist

    In his heroic Soviet propaganda style, he is probably the only journalist to arrange, choreograph and then capture such a symbolic event. He defended posing most of his pictures by insisting that the shot taken should match the importance of the event. As was the case with many Soviet and other journalists during the war, once the picture was taken and developed, that did not mean it was finished. Censors at the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) noticed that on the wrists of the solider in the picture there was not one but two watches indicating a common practice by all parties during World War II, looting. The officials thought the sight of looting members of the Red Army would look badly and told Khaldei to edit them out. Not stopping with the watches, Khaldei also added smoke to the background to add to the drama of a wartime shot. In a recent Art show commemorating his work, only one of his shots was actually taken during combat and not posed. In defence of Mr. Khaldei, he might have been too busy to actually take pictures during combat. Unlike their fellow Allied journalists, Soviet reporters carried arms and were soldiers first, journalists second.

    After the War

    Smoke over Berlin

    The smoke that was added to the image


    After the surrender of Germany, Khaldei covered many events including the Nazi war-crimes tribunals, the Nuremberg trials. In 1947 Robert Capa travelled to the Soviet Union with his friend, John Steinbeck. When he was leaving the country Soviet officials wanted to look through his undeveloped images. Capa refused to give them access unless Yevgeny Khaldei developed them. Capa had befriended the photographer while the two covered the Potsdam Conference and the Nuremberg Trials together and photographed one another there. Both men were hard-drinkers and recognized as playboy lady killers.

    Khaldei worked with TASS until 1948, when increased Stalin sanctioned antisemitism of the time or his support of Tito, who went against Stalin, forced him from the job. He struggled to find work as a lot of Jews did during that period, until Stalin died in 1953. After Stalin’s death, the antisemitism was brushed under the Soviet carpet and he was able to find work again at the Russian Newspaper giant, Pravda. While it was official state doctrine that everyone in the USSR was equal and there was no race problem like America, Khaldei still felt the ever-present antisemitism that has dogged Russian culture for centuries. He was allowed to take pictures of Russian musicians but forbidden to give coverage to Jewish artists. These double standards continued until finally in 1972 when he was again, because of his background, forced from his job at Pravda. Even though Russian antisemitism caused the death of his mother and Soviet antisemitism forced him from two jobs he still supports the Soviet communist dream:

    I was a son of Communists, and we were pioneers by the time I was 8. I was invited to Albania and flown there in President Enver Hodja’s plane at age 9. I militated for almost everything possible until I was 17. From then on, my conscience has been drawn inward and as a result, I can’t stand groups, organizations, and dominating ideologies anymore. This doesn’t mean that I don’t deeply respect the socialist ideal, and I’m a far cry from wanting to harp along with everyone else about the curse of communism. At least the respect for values and ideas exists in this ideal, which is terribly lacking nowadays. It’s no coincidence that most members of the Resistance movement were communists if they weren’t Jewish communists.
    Credit he deserved

    Antisemitism almost buried Khaldei into oblivion as his photos including his shot of the Soviet Flag over the bombed-out ruins of Berlin were published without credit. It was only till after the cold war and the collapse of communism that professors Alexander and Alice Nakhimovsky came across his name in the Russian archives and created a book showcasing his work, WITNESS TO HISTORY: The Photographs of Yevgeny Khaldei. Now the Khaldei Exhibition has a retrospective in major cities all over the world. The book even led to a movie about his life, Evgueni Khaldei: Photographer Under Stalin. Before he was discovered, Khaldei was surviving on a $35 monthly pension from the State. Just after the film was finished on Oct 6, 1997, at the age of 80 he died. He never made any money from royalties of his work but his son-in-law Yuri Bibichev said Khaldei didn’t care, “He was glad that what he had done over 80 years was of use to someone”.

    Copyright Status

    This image used to be copyright free but in 2006 the Russian State changed its copyright laws. So now images:

    • taken after 1943 (Image was taken in 1945)
    • images whose author wasn’t discovered before 1995 (Khaldei’s role was discovered in 1991)
    • the author died 70-years-ago (Khaldei past away in 1997)
    • the image was published 70-years-ago (This photo was published May 13, 1945, in the Ogonyok magazine.)

    Pictures that fit one of these conditions, like this picture, are all covered by copyright laws and not public domain images.

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