CREATED Feb. 21, 2013
It's one of the most iconic photos in American history, the flag raising on Mt Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima in World War Two.
Appleton West graduate James Bradley has been immortalized for his role in helping raise that flag. But numerous other Wisconsin veterans took part in this legendary battle which started 68 years ago this week.
John Wayne starred in the first movie about it...Clint Eastwood directed two movies about it...a bevy of books have been written about it. It, is the battle for a lonely sulpheric island in the Pacific named Iwo Jima. On the door step of Japan, allied military leaders believed capturing its airfields would save the lives of thousands of american fliers and shorten the war. Only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide...these same leaders predicted that the entire battle would only take five days...Green Bays Bernie Neuville and Bob Young were in the thick of it from the beginning.
Bob Young, (Marine Veteran) On board ship we had the radios on and Tokyo Rose says, "Hey marines, you're going to invade Iwo Jima huh?" They knew we were coming, hell, they knew we were coming."
(John Maino) Within hours of the invasion, these courageous young men realized their leaders had been dead wrong, the Japanese defenses were in fact, coordinated and lethal.
Bernie Neuville (Marine Veteran) "They didn't even have to aim, all they had to do was pull the trigger because every angle on the island was covered.
Bob Young "After a period it starts to get to you because we were losing men being killed and injured and we didn't see many of theres that were.
Bernie Neuville "Well, its pretty scary the fact that one minute your buddy is lying right next to you and the next minute he's gone, lying still you know...
Maino " Daily life for those involved in this bloodiest of battles....."
Bernie Neuville "You're trying to concentrate when all hell breaks loose and then the noise terrifies you to begin with.
Maino, While some believe the flag raising symbolized the end of the battle, it was in fact just day five of a 36 day fight. Its the morale boast that was immeasurable.
Bernie Neuville "When that flag came out everything was at a standstill, yelling and screaming, the whole nine yards, that was quite a site.
Bob Young "I was facing the other way so i turned around and my God there was that beautiful flag just waving in the breeze...excuse me John.
Maino " A flag on a rusty pipe on a God forsaken hill...but flowing with symbolism that hit home.
Bob Young, "That's our country. that's really what the flag was. That's what it meant to the guys. This is our country that flag stands for everything we stand for.
Maino Young boys sent into a living hell, elderly gentlemen who still shutter at the words Iwo Jima.
Bernie Neuville: All the guys we lost, all the guys we lost, what else you going to think about?
Bob Young " No matter how old i get i will never forget it ,,,,every day...you would like to forget it but you can't...all those buddies
The price for capturing the island, a staggering 26,000 american casualties. By the way Bob and Bernie and all the Iwo vets, want to make sure people know there was a less publized, yet every bit as inspirational flag raising on mt surabachi, prior to the more famous one. yet those flag raisers never quite recieved the recognition they deserved.