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

Other Famous Pictures

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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.

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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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    Aid From The Padre

    Behind the camera: Hector Rondon
    Where: Puerto Cabello, Venezuela during the El Porteñazo uprising
    Photo Summary: Navy chaplain Luis Padillo holding a wounded soldier as sniper bullets hit the ground around him
    Picture Taken: June 4, 1962

    Hector Rondon was covering the short-lived El Porteñazo uprising that took place in June 1962. Lasting for four days (2 June 1962 – 6 June 1962) naval units of the Venezuelan military rebelled taking the city of Puerto Cabello and its Solano Castle. The uprising against the Venezuelan government of Rómulo Betancourt was quickly crushed but not before Hector Rondon was able to capture this iconic photo which earned him the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Photography.

    Taking the photo

    While working in the Venezuela city of Caracas Hector Rondon heard of the Porteñazo uprising in the city of Puerto Cabello about 60 miles (97 km) away. A month earlier another uprising against the Betancourt government called, El Carupanazo, in Carúpano city, had been successively put down. Wanting to cover this second rebellion he raced to Puerto Cabello and arrived at the same time as government tanks were about to engage the Porteñazo rebels.

    Men lying on the ground

    Another image from the same time

    I found myself in solid lead for forty-five minutes … I was flattened against the wall while bullets were flying, when the priest appeared. The truth is, I don’t know how I took those pictures, lying on the ground.
    Rondon shot the government soldier crawling his way up Navy chaplain Luis Padillo’s robe as Padillo looks in the direction of the rebel sniper fire. Government forces quickly took control of the town and over two days pounded the remaining rebels, that had taken cover in the Solano Castle, into submission. A handful that weren’t captured or killed were able to escape into the jungle.

    Hector Rondon


    Man helping a soldier

    Other pictures Hector took took


    Hector Rondon was born on November 25, 1933, in Bruzual, Venezuela. He worked at a glass factory, joined the military and then worked as a taxi driver before in 1955 he became the official Los Togues regional photographer for the city and state officials. In 1959 he joined the Caracas Newspaper, La Republica, as its photographer. He was the second non-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography.

    Copyright


    The copyright for this image is managed by AP IMAGES

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