"Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years." - Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal upon seeing the Rosenthal photograph
On the morning of February 19, 1945, 70,000 US Marines invaded Iwo Jima. The fighting was fierce. Intelligence had made a significant error about the size of the Japanese force on the island.
During the early hours of February 23rd, Marines all over Iwo Jima were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying from atop Mount Suribachi. Later that day, a larger flag was raised by five Marines and a Navy Hospital Corpsman: Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon H. Block, Pfc. Franklin R. Sousley, Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, and PhM. 2/c John H. Bradley, USN.
News-photographer Joe Rosenthal caught the afternoon flag raising in an inspiring Pulitzer Prize winning photograph.
Three of the men would die in later battles on Iwo Jima and join over 6,800 of their brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Iwo Jima, one of the most hard-fought battles in the war, is also commonly remembered by quoting Admiral Chester Nimitz, "Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."