Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi came under scrutiny in 2016, when researchers revealed that one of the Marines had been misidentified all these years. Now, a second misidentified Marine has been discovered in the famous image, the Marine Corps announced in October 2019.
In 2016, the announcement came that the man long thought to be Navy Corpsman John Bradley in the photo was in fact Marine Private First Class Harold Schultz (see “Flags Not of Our Fathers?,” August 2016, pp. 40–41). That revelation prompted further research by historians. “These historians provided a significant amount of new evidence for consideration, mostly in the form of dozens of previously private photographs,” the Marine Corps stated in its 17 October press release.
The conclusion? The long-held claim that Private First Class Rene A. Gagnon was the Marine pictured on the far side of the flagpole is incorrect. Instead, that Marine has been identified as Corporal Harold P. Keller. (The Marine’s helmet but not his face is visible, thus contributing to the long-standing confusion.)
According to the release, “Without the initiative and contributions of both private historians devoted to preservation of our history and the FBI’s support, the Marine Corps would not have this opportunity to expand on the historical record of the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi. We are extremely grateful for their dedication to helping us preserve our legacy.”