Monday, August 21, 2006

Iwo Jima Photog Joe Rosenthal Dead

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Joe Rosenthal was a man who understood valor. He lived it. The picture above is as great a service to the US Marine Corps as any. Joe died at the age of 94 but his photo lives on:

He was a 33-year-old Associated Press photographer on Feb. 23, 1945, when he captured the black-and-white image of five battle-weary Marines and a Navy corpsman struggling to raise a flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

He took the picture on the fifth day of the furious 36-day battle that left 6,621 American dead and 19,217 wounded. All but 1,083 of the 22,000 dug-in Japanese defenders were killed before the island was secured.

It was of that battle -- one of the bloodiest in Marine Corps history -- that Adm. Chester Nimitz, World War II commander of the Pacific fleet, said: "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Wartime Navy Secretary James Forrestal said of Rosenthal: "He was as gallant as the men going up that hill."

One of the myths of this photo is debunked by Confederate Yankee.

Update: Captain B has more thoughts.

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