Flags of Our Fathers Study Guide

Chapter 10 – D-Day Plus Three

Upon nightfall on their third day of battle, a Japanese air raid was happening on the ships located offshore. Japanese soldiers with grenades on hand continued to terrorize the Marines. It’s been raining since the first day, but the rain during D-Day Plus Three was colder and harder than before—and this is also on the same day when they planned on taking over Mount Suribachi. Navy carrier bombers mistake the American Marines for the enemy and nearly wipe them all out. Captain Severence had to get in touch with Harry the Horse via radio to stop them.

Marines finally hear the enemy talking and moving below ground. They surround Mount Suribachi. By nightfall on the fourth day, half of the remaining Japanese soldiers voluntarily abandon their posts. Colonel Kanehiko Atsuchi, the commanding officer at Mount Suribachi, orders everyone to abandon the mountain. However, while the Japanese were on their way to meet their comrades on the northern side of the island, 150 of them gets slaughtered by the Marines. The news about the downfall of Mount Suribachi reached the navy guard headquarters of the Japanese.

Notes: The determination of the Marines prevailed against the Japanese.

Chapter 11 - “So Every Son of a Bitch on This Whole Cruddy Island Can See It!”

On their fifth morning in Iwo Jima, Colonel Chandler Johnson orders two four-man patrols to trek their way up to the northern face of Mount Suribachi. Only the patrol led by Sergeant Sherman B. Watson made it to the top prior to reporting to Colonel Johnson. The Colonel calls on Dave Severence to send another platoon to the top. Severenece complies by sending a 40-man group, which includes the survivors of the Easy Company. Led by his executive officer, First Lieutenant H. “George” Schrier, Johnson instructs the First Lieutenant to carry an American flag and to put it up if they reach the top.

They start climbing with fear in their hearts, expecting to be attacked any moment. Once they reached the top without alerting the enemy, they started raising the flag. Boots Thomas, Sergeant Hank Hansen, and Doc Bradley, along with a small group start setting the flag up in place, with Sergeant Lou Lowery using a camera to document the event. The Marines on the island as well as Navy ships rejoiced upon seeing the raising of the flag. Afterwards, a firefight ensued between the Americans and the small number of Japanese soldiers left, but none of the Americans get seriously injured.

James Forrestal, the Secretary of the Navy, decides that he wants to keep the flag as a souvenir for himself. However, Chandler Johnson believes that the flag belongs to those who raised it in their battalion. He sends out his assistant to retrieve a larger replacement flag. Rene Gagnon gets sent up to deliver the new flag. Rene was ordered to tell Schrier to put up the flag and keep the original one for Johnson. Rene treks up Mount Suribachi with Ira Hayes, Mike Strank, Harlon Block, and Franklin Sousley.

The six flag raisers just did the flag raising without any fuss. To them, the replacement one isn’t as important as the original one. A photographer from Associated Press, Joe Rosenthal, captures the moment, but he has no confirmation if the photo turned out okay. He then stages a new photograph, with the men posing with the flag. His film is then flown to Guam so it can get developed, with it being transmitted via radio signals to New York within the next few days.

Notes: The American flag that was used, as a replacement did not hold any importance for the boys in Mount Suribachi. Joe Rosenthal’s photo blew everything out of proportion, with his photo being used as war propaganda and became an important symbol for American patriotism.

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