Marines: Another Man in Iwo Jima Photo Was Misidentified

Historians say flag-raiser was Cpl Harold 'Pie' Keller
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2019 1:35 AM CDT
Marines: 2nd Man in Iconic Photo Was Misidentified
In this Feb 23, 1945 photo, US Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan.   (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal, File)

For the second time in less than four years, military historians have revised the list of the Marines seen in one of history's most famous photos. Three historians who reviewed film footage and other photos say Cpl Harold 'Pie' Keller, not Pfc. Rene Gagnon, was one of the six men seen raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, the Guardian reports. Their findings have been confirmed by a Marines investigative board and investigators from the FBI's digital evidence lab. Keller, the second man from the right, is the most obscured of the six Marines in photographer Joe Rosenthal's famous image. Keller, a Purple Heart winner from Brooklyn, Iowa, "never spoke about any of this when we were growing up ," daughter Kay Maurer, 70, tells NBC.

"Regardless of who was in the photograph, each and every Marine who set foot on Iwo Jima, or supported the effort from the sea and air around the island is, and always will be, a part of our Corps’ cherished history," the Marines said in a statement. The flag-raising captured by Rosenthal was the second one that day: Hours after the first one went up, a commander decided a bigger one would improve morale. Gagnon "played a significant role in the flag raising on Mount Suribachi and his role will never be diminished," the Marines said. "He was directly responsible for getting the larger second flag to the top and returning the first flag for safe keeping. Without his efforts, this historical event might not have been captured, let alone even occurred." Keller and Gagnon both died in 1979. Three of the Marines in the photo were killed in action on Iwo Jima. (In 2016, the Marines said another man in the photo had been misidentified.)

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