By the Sword

Behind the camera: Yasushi Nagao
Where: Stage of Hibiya Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Photo Summary: Otoya Yamaguchi thrusting his sword into Socialist party leader, Inejiro Asanuma
Picture Taken: October 12, 1960

1960 saw great political turmoil in Japan as the ruling party, the LDP, tried to pass the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. The Japan Socialist Party tried in vain to stop the bill’s passage in the Diet even physically preventing LDP members from entering the parliament chamber before being removed by police. Failing to stop the bill the Socialists and their supporters took to the streets in sometimes violent protests that even forced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to cancel a planned trip to the country. Hoping to capitalize on the anger that the bill was passed on June 19 Socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma planned an American style televised rally for the upcoming Lower-house election. It was at this rally that an ultra-nationalist member Otoya Yamaguchi rushed the stage and twice plunged a samurai blade into Asanuma’s stomach. The picture captured by Mainichi photographer Yasushi Nagao was published around the world and eventually went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography the first time someone from Japan had won the award. With the award, Nagao was able to travel freely around the world, something that was difficult for Japanese citizens at the time. He died of natural causes on May 2, 2009.

Taking the photo





Yasushi Nagao was one of thirty-six photographers that worked for the daily Japanese newspaper, Mainichi. On that day he was assigned to cover the election debate at Hibiya Hall. Before he entered the Hall he slipped a twelve-exposure film pack into his 4×5 Speed Graphic camera. As Asanuma started his speech right-wing hecklers started throwing objects at the stage while shouting, “Shut up, Communist” and “Banzai the U.S.A.”
As police moved in to remove the hecklers most of the press covering the event followed them in hopes of getting some good crowd shots. Nagao chose to stay at the stage. The young Yamaguchi dressed in his high school uniform slipped past the police and ran onto the stage. Out of the corner of his eye saw Yamaguchi jump on stage and Nagao by instinct changed the focus from 10 to 15 feet. He initially thought that the boy “was carrying a brown stick to strike Asanuma.” Running full speed across the stage the young assassin slammed the blade deep in the belly of Asanuma, the impact forced the two to spin apart. Nagao had waited until this point as the impact had pushed Yamaguchi and Asanuma out from behind the podium. Nagao snapped the moment as Yamaguchi prepared to thrust his blade a second time into Asanuma’s belly. The photo was his last unexposed negative.
Realizing that he had a great image Nagao rushed his roll of film to the Mainichi building. By agreement, UPI had exclusive rights to all Mainichi news pictures and they radio-photoed Nagao’s image back to the States where it was published in numerous newspapers and magazines including the October 24, 1960 issue of LIFE magazine. The image won every photo award in America including the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 1961.

The assassin

17-year-old Otoya Yamaguchi was a member of an ultra-right-wing nationalist group. His father, Shimpei Yamaguchi, was a colonel in the Japanese Self-Defense force. Even though Shimpei Yamaguchi was forced to resign his commission he defended his boy saying: “A rightist is better than a leftist.”. When Otoya was arrested police records record that he expressed regret that he was only able to kill Asanuma. He had planned to kill three people: Communist member Sanzo Nosaka, Japan Teachers’ Union Chairman Takeshi Kobayashi as well as Asanuma. The sword he used is called a wakizashi which is a small blade that the samurai used to wear. It was found by Otoya in the bottom of his father’s closet a week before the assassination.

On November 2nd, while in a juvenile detention center, Otoya used toothpaste to write a message on his wall: “Seven lives for my country. Ten thousand years for His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!”. He then tore his bedsheet into strips which he used to make a rope to hang himself in a Japanese ritual called owabi. Owabi is a samurai tradition in which one commits suicide to apologize to those inconvenienced by Asanuma killing.

Inejiro Asanuma

The 225 lbs (102 kg) politician was the left-wing leader of the Japanese Socialist Party. He often enraged the Japanese conservatives by publicly supporting communist China. In 1959 he visited Red China and even went so far to say, “the United States is the common enemy of the Japanese and Chinese peoples.” To prevent the passage of the Japanese American mutual defense pact Asanuma organized large snake-dancing demonstrations that eventually prevented President Eisenhower from visiting the country. After his assassination, the Socialist party paraded his widow in hopes of generating sympathy votes from the Japanese public. Even with the support after Asanuma’s murder during the November 20, 1960 election the LDJ won with 296 seats compared to 145 seats of Socialist party down from 166 seats they held during the 1958 election.

Other Famous picturess

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Starving Sudanese girl

Behind the camera: Kevin Carter
Where: Ayod, Sudan (Now South Sudan)
Photo Summary: Young Sudanese girl crawling to the food station
Picture Taken: March 1993

In March of 1993 the combination of civil war, drought had created famine conditions throughout Southern Sudan. Reporting on the starving people Kevin Carter and other journalists flew into Ayod, Sudan (Now in the newly created country of South Sudan) where he took this famous picture of a young Sudanese girl crawling to the food station. For the image he won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Feature Photography.

Taking the image

In 1983 the East African Famine had struck the whole region leaving millions starving in Africa. Carter was anxious to cover the event and took a leave of absence from his newspaper job and borrowed money to pay for the flight. At Ayod, Sudan a small village that became a food aid station, starving people from hundreds of kilometers away staggered into the camp to get food but were still dying at an incredible rate of twenty an hour. Seeing such horror Carter went out into the open bush outside the camp where he heard a whimper and walking towards the sound found the young girl resting on the ground. A vulture settled down nearby and Carter waited twenty minutes hoping it would spread its wings allowing him to snap a better picture. When the bird didn’t comply he snapped the now infamous shot and then shooed away the vulture. Distraught at not being able to help any of the people at Ayod he sat under a tree and cried in despair.
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Controversy

Returning from Ayod Carter was able to sell the image to the New York Times who published it on March 26, 1993. Almost immediately people phoned and wrote to the newspaper asking about the fate of the small girl. When it was learned that the journalist didn’t help the girl and that her fate was unknown people accused him of exploiting the desperate scene even though at the briefing in Sudan the journalists were warned that touching any of the famine victims was strictly forbidden. American papers like the St. Petersburg (The Florida city) Times slammed Carter saying “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.” Carter took the criticism harshly and spiralled into depression and drug use.

Kevin Carter

Carter was born in 1960 in South Africa during the height of apartheid. As a child, he saw how the injustice at how the state dealt with blacks and became outraged. He got a job as a photographer and quickly made a name for himself when he took a number of pictures of the anti-apartheid demonstrations and violent incidents in South Africa. He quickly fell into a group of like-minded individuals and “They put themselves in face of danger, were arrested numerous times, but never quit. They literally were willing to sacrifice themselves for what they believed in,” says American photojournalist James Nachtwey, who often worked with Carter and his group of friends.
Travelling in groups for safety Carter and his three friends Ken Oosterbroek, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva covered the intense violence of the country as groups vied for power and fought the apartheid state. They became infamous for getting in the thick of things and were known as the The Bang-Bang Club
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Carter had a number of pictures published but what he was seeing in the violence of the townships was affecting his mental stability. He resorted to drugs to dull the pain and to forget the horrors he saw. He found a brief respite after winning the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Feature Photography and was headhunted by the prestigious photo agencies but after a number of bungled assignments, the death of Bang Bang member Ken Oosterbroek and mounting debts he became even more depressed and despondent. On Wednesday, July 27, 1994, Carter drove his vehicle to his childhood neighborhood ran a hose from the exhaust to the cab and killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning. His suicide note wrote that he was “depressed . . . without phone . . . money for rent . . . money for child support . . . money for debts . . . money!!! . . . I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain . . . of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners . . . ” And then this: “I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

Pictures from other Wars

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Oklahoma City Bombing

Behind the camera: Lester LaRue and Charles Porter took almost the same picture
Where: Outside the wreckage of the bombed out Alfred P. Murrah Federal government Building, Oklahoma, USA
Photo Summary: Oklahoma City fire Capt. Chris Fields holding Baylee Almon
Picture Taken: April 19, 1995

At 9:02, on April 19, 1995, Gulf War vet, Timothy McVeigh detonated 4,800 lbs of fertilizer and fuel oil. The resulting blast destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal government Building and killed 168 people. The bombing, the largest act of domestic terrorism, in America, shattered pre-911 America’s innocence.
As the fires raged rescue services and bystanders rushed to pull victims out of the twisted wreckage. Sifting through the rubble police officer, Sgt. John Avera found a small half-buried body. Shouting. “I have a critical infant! I have a critical infant!” he thrust the 1-year-old Baylee Almon into the arms of nearby firefighter Oklahoma City fire Capt. Chris Fields. As Chris checked Baylee for signs of life two amateur photographers both raised their cameras. Lester LaRue and Charles Porter standing just three feet apart, yet unaware of each other, snapped the image that came to symbolize the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing.


The photographers

Porter


Charles Porter a 25-year-old credit specialist knew he had something less than 3 hours later when the clerk at the Wal-Mart photo counter stopped at one picture and began to cry. A friend told him to take the pictures to the media, and looking in the phone book he found the Associated Press office in Oklahoma City. Wendel Hudson, who was the AP photo editor in Oklahoma City right away saw the potential of the shot and sent it out on the AP wire. Porter returned home thinking that his photo might end up in the local paper until he received a long-distance call:

I go home about 1300. About 1320 I get this phone call from this lady and she says: “Hi, I am so-and-so from the London Times and I want to know if you are Charles Porter.”
I said: “Yes I am, but how do you know who I am?”
She said: “Well I just received your image over the AP wire…”
And she proceeded to explain to me what the Associated Press wire was.
I said that I didn’t know how to respond and she said, “Well sir, can I ask you one question?” And this is where it hit home: “Could I get your reaction and response to what your feelings are going to be, knowing that your image is going to be over every newspaper and every magazine in the entire world tomorrow?”
I was silent and speechless, and chills go over me just to think about the magnitude and the enormity of where that picture went and the impact that picture had at that time.
It was beyond my scope of comprehension and understanding, way beyond.

Lester LaRue

The second shooter, Lester LaRue, a safety coordinator employed by Oklahoma Natural Gas Company rushed to the scene of the explosion thinking that the blast was a gas leak. When he could drive no further he grabbed the company camera he kept in the car and started taking pictures. Later, he realized he too had something special when while developing his film the Moto-Photo clerk asked to make copies to show some people. The next day, the clerk called and said Newsweek wanted to see his negatives. The Magazine paid Lester $14,000 for the picture and it appeared on their May 1, 1995, cover. When the magazine hit the stands he became an instant celebrity and people started calling to make deals. Lester was both proud and ashamed of his claim to fame. He would sign magazines on the bottom right corner while blocking the image with his left. He was uncomfortable with the offers of money for photo rights. He worried the picture might be upsetting the baby’s mother. But a couple of weeks after the bombing, he saw Aren Almon, the baby’s mother, on the evening news saying she was proud her daughter had come to symbolize the innocence of the victims. That was enough for Lester, permission granted. Deals were made, money handed over: statues, posters, coins. His wife suggested T-shirts, with some of the profit going toward a downtown statue of the image. The shirts were only in stores a few days when he saw Aren Almon holding one of his shirts on TV livid that Lester was making money, off the image of her dead child.

Things turn bad


Company executives at Lester’s work started to get worried. They thought the controversy was bad for public relations. Since Lester took the picture with a company camera and on company time they told him to give up the picture and any money earned, he refused. After months of neither Lester nor management budging, at 10 a.m. on September 6 his manager dropped an ultimatum on his desk. Sign over the money earned and any picture rights to the company or pack up your stuff and leave. Lester left. As he drove home in a co-worker’s car he couldn’t believe it. He had been a faithful company man for 32 years, didn’t that mean anything?

The Mother

Aren isn’t the only one who lost a child in bombing

–Angry mother

Aren Almon, Baylee’s mother had avoided seeing her dead child the day of the explosion by getting her father to identify the body. The next day the shattered Aren couldn’t avoid the sight as she instantly recognized Baylee’s lifeless body on the front page of the Daily Oklahoman. Hours later the media tracked her down at her grandmother’s house. McVeigh’s bomb not only ended her child’s life but her own apartment only a block from the explosion was windowless and filled with debris and shattered glass.
She felt alone, crushed by the loss of her child. Looking at the paper again she sought comfort in the same arms that held Baylee, Chris Fields. Reporters arranged a meeting; she only got in a few words before breaking down, perfect footage for the evening news. She came to rely on Chris calling him 2, 3 times a week. She called him so much that tabloids started to imply that their relationship had developed into something else. Chris and Aren’s fears were confirmed when photographers started to ask them to kiss on camera and request shots of Chris’s wife standing alone.
Aren gladly granted some interviews and even gave her OK for some uses of the photograph. But now the picture of Baylee in Chris’s arms was coming to symbolize the tragedy, and both she and other victims’ families were starting to resent it. Other mother’s started to speak, out of grief and jealousy, that Aren was getting all the attention. On TV one woman said, “Aren isn’t the only one who lost a child in the bombing. Why should Aren get all the publicity – and most of the donations?” At a gathering of victims’ relatives, the mother of another dead child turned to Aren and said, “We don’t have to write as many thank-you notes as you do.” In the darkest moments as the world seemed to turn on Aren she knew she could always depend on Chris.

The Firefighter

Police officer, Sgt. John Avera thrusting the Baylee Almon into the arms of Chris Fields


Chris Fields knew he had to be careful with his newfound fame as he knew of firemen who took it too far. One in Texas had his 15min when he saved a baby trapped in a Texas well but when the publicity faded he couldn’t take it and committed suicide. Even days after the picture was flashed around the world some of the men at his station started to grumble, “I did more rescues than he did,”. He could understand their attitude because of one picture it was Chris, not them, who got to have breakfast with Tom Brokaw and Barbara Walters and get free trips to New York and Los Angeles for TV interviews.
Chris by all accounts didn’t let the attention go to his head; he didn’t even consider himself a hero. How could he when everyone he tried to save that day was dead or died later of their injuries. The one thing he could do was being there for the Aren. He thought Aren would find it was important that as he was the last one to hold Baylee. He felt it was his duty to comfort and protect her.
When resentful bombing victims vilified her on the TV news, he defended her. When she needed help to stop the exploitation of Baylee’s photo, he gave her names of lawyers. As time went on he felt more of a friend to Aren rather than Aren being just another one of his duties as a fireman.
On March 29, 2017, it was reported that Chris Fields retired after 31 years, 7 months and 16 days at the Oklahoma City Fire Department. The veteran firefighter said that after the bombing, Fields came to realize “PTSD is a real thing,” The smell of wet concrete triggers painful memories for him because it rained on the day of the blast. It took years of counselling for PTSD for Fields to recover and he wants his example to get other first responders and their bosses to pay attention to mental health. “Twenty or 30 years ago, you just didn’t show emotion, you went on about your day… we’ve come so far since then,” he said.

Moving On

The mother of the baby in the firefighter’s arms
-The address of some of the letters to Aren

A memorial now sits on the grounds where the Murrah building stood. 168 empty chairs recall those who died. Amongst the 168 chairs, smaller chairs commemorate the 19 children killed, 15 in the same day-care center. The chairs are lined in nine rows, symbolizing the 9 floors of the building.

Ten years after the bombing Chris Fields has gone from Capt. to Major and is the acting battalion chief with the fire department. The memories don’t bother him but he dreads having to go through it again.
Aren is now married with two kids, Bella and Broox, both of who know about their famous half-sister. After Baylee’s limb body appeared on TVs across the world, letters started to flow in from everywhere. Many only had “the mother of the baby in the firefighter’s arms” as the address. There was poetry, letters, cards but most had one thing in common, money. Aren used the donations to get her life in order to buy a house and a car but some of the very first donations she used to set up a group called Protecting People First Foundation (PPFF). Since the beginning PPFF’s mission has stayed the same, to raise awareness about the deadly effects of flying glass caused by a terrorist attack or natural disaster. After the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, workers thanked her because the protective glass helped save lives.

On April 18, 2005, the family celebrated what would have been Baylee’s 11th birthday. The cake and party favors are for her kids. They still have the party every year and the kids know the next day they’ll go to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and lay a wreath on the little chair that bears her name.
Oklahoma Natural Gas didn’t stop with firing Lester and on October 5, 1995, sued to claim copyright ownership of the photos. Oklahoma Natural Gas won. The court’s denied Lester’s appeals and Lester was forced to give up copyright ownership and pay statutory damages in the sum of $34,623.50.
Charles Porter’s picture went onto win the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. After the bombing Charles quit his job, moving to a collection agency but not happy there, he left that too. He worked odd jobs, and sometimes he got work as a wedding photographer. Brides had no idea their discount photographer was a Pulitzer Prize winner. Eventually, he went back to school and found his destiny – a degree in physical therapy. The Pulitzer he received for his picture is somewhere in his attic in a box. “My life,” Porter says, “is not defined by that one picture.”

Other Famous pictures

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Escaping over the Taedong Bridge

Behind the camera: Max Desfor
Where: A bridge on the Taedong River that runs through the city of Pyongyang, North Korea
Photo Summary: Labelled Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea the image shows refugees fleeing the North Koreans over a bridge on the Taedong River
Picture Taken: December 4, 1950

Late 1950 in the Korean War saw the direct entry of China into the Korean War. North Korean forces along with huge numbers of Chinese reinforcements not only broke the United Nations advance but sent them reeling. American forces, who made up the most of the United Nations forces, started the longest retreat in U.S. military history. As UN forces retreated so to did Korean civilians, with thousands fleeing from the advancing communist forces. Near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang AP photographer Max Desfor took this picture on a freezing December day as Korean refugees struggled across the ruined bridge. The image went on to win the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for photography.

Covering Korea

When he heard war had broken out in Korea 36-year-old Max Desfor volunteered at his work in the AP news service to cover the war. His supervisor initially tried to dissuade him from going as he didn’t think the war last two weeks. Desfor persisted and joined United Nations forces as they retreated from the North Koreans in the initial stages of the War. He was free to roam the various army groups and remembers that “embedding was not a term we used in Korea. We were not directed as to whom to go with. We were completely on our own.
He took part in a number of operations and after the hugely successful Inchon landing that forced the North Koreans into retreat, he took part in a parachute jump with the 187th Regimental combat team. “It was just about mid-way from Seoul to Pyongyang when I heard of a parachute jump that was going to take place… it was incredible – what an experience it is to make a parachute jump,” said the photographer. Even though the United Nations had by late 1950 occupied most of North Korea the direct involvement of China into the war changed everything. A string of battles broke the UN advance and they forced to retreat before the combined forces of the Chinese and North Koreans.

Taking the photo

Retreating with United Nations forces Desfor remembers stumbling upon an incredible scene in the freezing weather of December of 1950. In a the book Remembering the Forgotten War Desfor recalls:

I liberated a jeep from someone and joined the retreat. With me were [Tom Lambert (AP) and Homer Bigart(NY Times)] and an army signal corpsman. We crossed the Taedong River on a pontoon bridge that had just been hastily erected by the army engineers … On the south side of the river … [civilians] were walking across where the ice was solid and clogged the river. A little farther upstream, where the water was still open, they were crossing in small boats. As we jeeped farther southward … I saw what had been a sturdy span across the river, obviously recently destroyed by aerial bombs … with Koreans fleeing from the north bank of the Taedong River, crawling through and into and above and onto the broken-down bridge, it was like ants crawling through the girders. They carried what little possessions they had on their heads or strapped to their shoulders, and on the north side I saw thousands more lined up waiting to do the same thing, waiting to crawl and join the rest of them.

Desfor actually had trouble working his camera due to the plummeting temperatures. Falling off the bridge into the freezing river was likely a death sentence yet the thousands of refugees kept streaming across the bridge. Years after the war Desfor was struck by the “deathly silence” of the scene. The reporters continued on their way to what was left of the airport and put his film on the last Air Force Plane. He could have been evacuated with his film but decided to keep reporting the retreat. He did, however, get word to Bill Achatz the photo editor in AP Tokyo to look out for the film. Achatz got the film and transmitted it to the States on December 5, 1950.

Max Desfor

Desfor was born in 1914 and was an Associated Press photographer. He covered the Pacific Theater during World War II and was one of the photographers that photographed the Enola Gay crew when it returned from the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing. He was also able to record the Japanese surrender in 1945. After World War II he covered the Indonesian National Revolution in 1946 and the Indian Pakistan Kashmir War in 1947. In 1950 he returned to America after being stationed with his family in Rome, Italy. When war broke out he volunteered to cover the war taking a number of photos but it was this image that won him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1936 he married Clara Mehl until 1994 when she was taken from him in a horrible car accident. He lived another two decades after his wife’s death, dying himself at his Silver Spring, Maryland home on February 19, 2018, at the age of 104.

Copyright

For this image the Korean War Refugees Flee by Max Desfor the copyright held by AP Images

More Famous Pictures

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Burst of Joy

Burst of joyBehind the camera: Slava ‘Sal’ Veder
Where: Travis Air Force Base, in California
Photo Summary: The Stirm family running to their father, Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm. In the lead is 15 year old Lorrie followed by Robert Jr., Cindy, Roger and wife Loretta.
Picture Taken: March 17, 1973

With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973 American involvement in the Vietnam was over. Through a series of diplomatic negotiations a deal was reached with the North Vietnamese government that allowed the return of 591 American POWs held by the communists. In Operation Homecoming from February 12 to April 4 there were 54 flights out of Hanoi, North Vietnam to bring the POWs home. One of these runs was the plane with Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm. After giving a short speech Stirm’s family ran across the tarmac to greet their father who they hadn’t seen in six years. Slava “Sal” Veder who was working for the Associated Press caught this image. It went on to win the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for photography.

Taking the photo

The March 17th flight bringing 20 POWs home from Vietnam had a lot of press come out with a large crowd of around 400 family members and supporters. 46 year old Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder on assignment saw that after Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm finished his speech his family had appeared on the runway. “You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air,” he said. He snapped off a couple of shots and then rushed to the makeshift AP darkroom that had been set up in the Air Base ladies’ bathroom (United Press International were in the men’s). He and another AP photographer, Walt Zeboski, picked six to develop. Sal picked his favorite, titled it Burst of Joy and sent it out over the wire. It was published across the country and because Lt. Col. Stirm’s had his back turned towards the camera the anonymous image came to represent all the Vietnam homecomings.

Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm

Robert Stirm was born in San Francisco, California, in 1933. In 1953 he joined the Aviation Cadet Program and graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force on November 3, 1954. He served as a fighter pilot in Holland before getting training in the F-105 Thunderchief and going to Vietnam in August 1967. On October 27, 1967 Stirm was leading a flight of F-105Ds over Canal Des Rapides Bridge, Hanoi when he was shot down and captured that night. Before October 27th he had flown 33 combat missions. Throughout his six years as a POW he was held in several camps including the infamous Hanoi Hilton. He endured starvation, torture and a total of 281 days in solitary confinement. For part of his imprisonment he shared a cell with future politician John McCain. Robert Stirm remained in military service after his return retiring as a colonel in 1977. He lives in Foster City, California.

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The Stirm family

LT. COL. Robert L. Stirm, a recently released prisoner of war, greets his family upon his arrival at Travis Air Force Base

Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm, a recently released prisoner of war, greets his family upon his arrival at Travis Air Force Base.

While in the Air Force Robert Stirm married his wife Loretta on February 6, 1955. They had four children Lorrie Alynne, Robert L. Jr., Roger David and Cynthia “Cindy” Leigh. Lorrie was only 9 when her father was shot down. After 6 long years he finally came home. While her Dad gave a speech on behalf of the 20 POWs on their flight the family was stuck in the Stirm’s station wagon on the tarmac at Travis Air Force Base. Minutes passed that seemed like hours but finally with the formalities over, the children jumped out of the car and ran to their father. Lorrie remembers that she “just wanted to get to Dad as fast as I could, We didn’t know if he would ever come home … That moment was all our prayers answered, all our wishes come true.”
The happiness of the reunion didn’t last long. Three days before Stirm returned to America a chaplain had handed a Dear John letter from his wife. When he returned they tried to keep the marriage alive. Lorrie remembers “So much had happened—there was so much that my dad missed out on—and it took a while to let him back into our lives and accept his authority.” Robert and Loretta Stirm divorced within a year. His wife remarried in 1974 moving to Texas with her husband. Robert Stirm also remarried but this marriage too ended in divorce.
The oldest Robert became a dentist and the younger Robert, like his father, joined the Air Force rising to the rank of Major. Lorrie the oldest is an executive administrator and the youngest daughter Cindy is a waitress. Except for pilot Robert, who lives in Seattle, they all live in California. All four keep the picture mounted in their houses. “We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment,” Lorrie says, “but every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren’t reunited, and the ones that aren’t being reunited today—many, many families—and I think, I’m one of the lucky ones.”

The photographer

Slava J. Veder was born on August 30, 1926 in Berkeley, California. An alumni of Modesto Junior College, Pacific College and Sacramento State. After working in several jobs such as fireman, sportswriter for the Richmond Independent and staff on the Oakland Hockey Club in 1949 he joined the Almeda Times-Star before moving to the Tulsa World were he got work as an editor. In 1956 he left the Tulsa World and worked for a number of papers around America working as an editor. In 1961 he returned to California to work for the AP in Sacramento before transferring to the AP San Francisco office. It was in San Fran that he took Burst of Joy and a year later won the Pulitzer.

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Vietnam Napalm Girl

Behind the camera: Associated Press photographer Nick Út (Also known as Huynh Cong Út), ITN news crew including Christopher Wain and cameraman great Alan Downes. Also there was NBC cameraman Le Phuc Dinh who filmed Kim running towards the reporters.
Where: On the Vietnamese highway (Route 1) that leads from Saigon towards the Cambodian border just outside the village of Trang Bang, about 25 miles WNW of Saigon.
Photo Summary: Kim Phuc (aged 9) running naked in the middle with her older brother, Phan Thanh Tam (12), crying out to the left. Her younger brother, Phan Thanh Phuoc (5), to the left looking back at the village and to the right are Kim Phu’s small cousins Ho Van Bo, a boy, and Ho Thi Ting, a girl.
Picture Taken: June 8, 1972

This photo of Kim Phuc (full name Phan Thị Kim Phúc) was taken just after South Vietnamese planes bombed her village. She had only lived because she tore off her burning clothes. AP Photographer Nick Út and NBC cameraman Le Phuc Dinh filmed her and her family emerging from the village, after the airstrike, running for their lives. This photo has become one of the most famous and memorable photos of Vietnam and won Nick Út the Pulitzer prize in 1972.

Air Strike on Trang Bang



AP reporter Nick Út was among a number of reporters sent to the small village of Trang Bang along Route 1, the highway that leads from Saigon towards the Cambodian border. Travelling with Nick was ITN correspondent, Christopher Wain, North Vietnamese troops had taken control of the Highway there and Nick was sent to cover the South Vietnamese soldiers from the 25th Army Division who were ordered to retake Trang Bang and open the Highway. When Nick arrived he and other reporters also on assignment stood with South Vietnamese soldiers just outside the village watching the action.
The South Vietnamese commander of the unit requested an airstrike and propeller-driven Skyraiders, Korean-war vintage planes from the 518th Vietnamese Airforce Squadron, dropped Napalm on the village. When the smoke cleared villagers from the Trang Bang ran screaming from the village to the soldiers and reporters up the road. Taking pictures with two cameras, his Leica and a Nikon with a long lens, Nick Út remembers seeing Kim Phuc running naked down the street:

As soon as she saw me, she said: “I want some water, I’m too hot, too hot,” – in Vietnamese, “Nong qua, nong qua!” And she wanted something to drink. I got her some water. She drank it and I told her I would help her. I picked up Kim and took her to my car. I ran up about 10 miles to Cu Chi hospital, to try to save her life. At the hospital, there were so many Vietnamese people – soldiers were dying there. They didn’t care about the children. Then I told them: “I am a media reporter, please help her, I don’t want her to die.” And the people helped her right away.
–Nick Út

Christopher Wain also remembers the event after the napalm struck:

There was a blast of heat which felt like someone had opened the door of an oven. Then we saw Kim and the rest of the children. None of them were making any sound at all – until they saw the adults. Then they started to scream. We were short of film and my cameraman, the late, great Alan Downes, was worried that I was asking him to waste precious film shooting horrific pictures which were too awful to use. My attitude was that we needed to show what it was like, and to their lasting credit, ITN ran the shots.

KIM PHUC getting treated for burns

Nick quickly released that without help Kim would die and so drove her and other injured family members to the hospital. Kim already thought she was doomed and while reporters and soldiers tried to treat her horrible wounds she told her brother Tam, “I think I am going to die.” Driving an hour to the provincial Vietnamese hospital in Cu Chi, halfway up the highway to Saigon, Kim passed out from the pain.
The hospital was used to war injuries, and after years of civil war knew that Kim’s chances of living were slim to none and tried to triage her, or put her aside so they could treat other wounded who had better chances of living. Only at Nick’s urging that the girl had been photographed and her picture would be shown all over the world did the hospital staff agree to operate. Nick didn’t leave to develop his film until she was put on the operating table. At first, his editors refused to run it because she was naked but when nick explained that she had no clothes because they had been burned off her body they changed their minds and sent it around the world.
[midgoogle]

Life after the napalm

On June 12, 1972, then American President Richard Nixon was recorded talking to his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, discussing the Vietnam War. Among other things he was recorded saying they should use the Atomic bomb in Vietnam and talking about Kim’s photo said, “I’m wondering if that was fixed,” Haldeman replied, “Could have been.”
While Nixon debated with his staff about whether she was a fraud Kim defied all expectations and after a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures, she returned home to the napalm bombed village of, Trang Bang. Nick continued to visit until the fall of Saigon three years later, in 1975, when he along with other American media employees were evacuated.

As Kim grew up there was a lot of pressure from government and anti-war groups who forced her to be used as an anti-war symbol. She requested and was eventually granted permission to move to Cuba to study pharmacy. In was in Cuba that she meet her future husband, Bui Huy Tuan. They were married and a Korean friend paid for a vacation to Moscow in 1992. On the return flight, their plane stopped over in Gander, Newfoundland, a province in Canada. As it was refuelling she and her husband walked off and defected to the Canadian government.
The two live in Ajax, Ontario Canada and have two children, Thomas and Stephen. In 1997 she established the Kim Foundation a non-profit charitable organization that funds medical care for child victims of war around the world. For her charity work she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from York University in Toronto, Ontario, in 2002, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Order of Ontario in 2004.
These days find her touring the world and giving speeches at churches and schools talking about her story, the Kim Foundation and her hopes for peace:

I should have died

My skin should have burned off my body

But I’m still beautiful, right?

…Don’t see a little girl crying out in fear and pain

See her as crying out for peace.

Who ordered the Strike


KIM PHUC STORY
The picture has since become a powerful anti-war piece and symbolizes everything wrong with American involvement in Vietnam. This is ironic considering a South Vietnamese commander ordered an airstrike carried out by the South Vietnamese Airforce which was flown by Vietnamese pilots. By June 1972 the “Vietnamization” (The handing over of American duties to their South Vietnamese counterparts) in the country was in full swing and most Americans had been withdrawn back to the States.
But did America have any involvement in the airstrike? In 1996 Kim gave a speech at the United States Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day where she said that we cannot change the past but can work for a peaceful future. After the speech, Vietnam war veteran John Plummer, now a Methodist minister, talked to some of his old buddies and got them to ask if she would like to meet him for he stated that he was the one who ordered the bombing. She accepted and they met briefly and Plummer remembers that, “as I approached her, she saw my grief, my pain, my sorrow. She held out her arms to me and we embraced. All I could say was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ over and over again. And I heard her saying to me “It’s all right. It’s all right. I forgive. I forgive.” He also claims that later in the day, they knelt together (Kim had converted to Christianity in Vietnam) and prayed together. Plummer said, “Finally, I was free. I had found peace.”

Plummer claimed that he received a call from an American military adviser working with a South Vietnamese army unit, who requested an airstrike on the village of Trang Bang. He relayed the request for a strike to U.S. Air Force personnel, who asked the South Vietnamese air force to launch it. Later, he saw the photo in Stars and Stripes, and recognized the bombing as one in which he was involved.

His version of events sparked quite a bit of controversy as he originally was quoted as saying he ordered the attack. His former superior retired Maj. Gen. Niles J. Fulwyler, was quoted as saying that Plummer didn’t have the authority to order the attack and that, “He did not direct that Vietnamese aircraft in that attack,”. In response to outraged Vietnam vets claiming he exaggerated his role in the bombing Plummer has since said that while he didn’t order the attack he definitely relayed the orders to others in the military machine.

Nick Ut

Nick Ut (born March 29, 1951 as Huynh Cong Ut) is a Vietnamese photographer born in the town of Long An, then part of South Vietnam. On January 1, 1966, when Ut was only 14 he began to take photos for the Associated Press after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, another AP photographer, was killed in Vietnam. While covering the war Ut was wounded three times. When South Vietnam fell Ut moved and worked for the Korean, and Japanese branches of AP before settling in Los Angles, America in 1977. Ut and his wife, Le Tuyet Hong, live in Monterey Park, California, with their two children.

In LA he became a celebrity photographer and in 2007 famously captured Paris Hilton being forced back to prison exactly 35 years after taking the Napalm Girl photo. When New York Daly News asked about the Paris Hilton shot Ut replied, “I was lucky to get the shot I did, I focused on her blond hair when she got out.” when asked about celebrity versus war photography, he only said, “It’s very different.” The Paris Hilton shot gained even more media controversy when it emerged that standing beside Ut was photographer Karl Larsen who took a similar shot. Many media outlets used Larsen’s picture and credited it as Ut’s. Larsen ended up having to sue stations like ABC for lost revenue.

Copyright


Copyright for this image is handled by AP Images. They deal with the photo taken by Nick Ut.

More Famous Photos

Related Posts:

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

Related Posts:

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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    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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