Momentous WWII Iwo Jima Flag Raising Photograph is Not the Original

A Leavenworth, Kansas man still holds onto the original WWII Iwo Jima flag raising photograph.

At the end of WWII, the United States had one picture burned into their memory. Even if you were not even alive for the war, you most likely are aware of the picture. The flag raising at Iwo Jima became an extremely popular event after being captured by the photographer Joe Rosenthal. Since then, the photograph has won the Pulitzer Prize, was reproduced on the U.S. postage stamp and a bronze sculpture was constructed to capture the moment.

However, what most people do not know is the famous flag raising was not a “first.” It was actually a restaged event and Art Jahn, a retired supermarket operator from Kansas, has a copy of a picture of the very first flag to fly over Mt. Suribachi.

Iwo Jima Flag Raising

Jahn was a sergeant with Group Operations, 414th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force during the war and arrived in Iwo Jima shortly after the flag-raising. At the time, GIs were notorious for gathering war souvenirs like enemy flags, firearms, uniforms, and even photographs.

While on the island, a Marine approached Jahn and asked him if he was interested in buying some war photos from him. Among those pictures was one depicting Old Glory, suspended from a length of water pipe, and held place by guy lines. Jahn had $8 and a bottle of vodka, both of which the Marine accepted and the two men went on their separate ways.

Charles W. Lindberg of Richfield, Minnesota, a Marine on Iwo Jima, authenticated the photo. Although Lindberg was not one of the men in the picture, he was among the six men who attached the U.S. flag to the pipe and hoisted it up 45 years ago. Lindberg and his fellow men raised the flag four hours prior to Rosenthal arriving to capture the moment with this camera.

This was the very first time the Stars and Stripes flew over the former Japanese territory. Nearby servicemen and ships made the victory known with overwhelming cheers and whistles.

Source: Leavenworth Times


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2 Replies to “Momentous WWII Iwo Jima Flag Raising Photograph is Not the Original

  1. You are correct that it wasn’t the first flag, but incorrect that the second raising was staged. The Commander deemed that the first flag was too small to be seen by the servicemen on the ground down the hill, and ordered the battle flag of the Battleship LST 779 to be brought up and flown. The second photo was actually almost missed by the associated press photographer that was there, and turned and snapped a few quickly ,and the end result was the published photo.

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